Planning and environment – demolition in DCP –
whether building does not contribute positively to the visual
character of the street – whether demolition will not result
in loss of traditional "tin and timber" character within
Facts: This was an appeal in relation to a
development application for preliminary approval for the carrying
out of building work for the demolition of a "pre-1946"
character house within the Demolition Control Precinct located at
117 Vernon Street, Nundah.
Performance Criteria P1 of the Demolition Code was applicable.
P1 required that where there was a residential building, the
building "must not contribute positively" to the
"visual character of the street".
The only applicable acceptable solution was one part of A1.3. It
stated, relevantly, that, where there was a residential building,
the demolition of a building would not result in the
"loss" of traditional "timber and tin" building
"character" within the Demolition Control Precinct.
The experts engaged by the parties agreed that the building on
the site was "recognisably" a pre-1946 house which
expressed "traditional building character" and that it
was "structurally sound and / or capable of structural
The Appellant's expert conceded that the visual character of
the street could be described as "mixed", while the
Respondent's expert used the term "varied". The
northern side of the street had a predominantly post-1946 visual
character and the southern side a predominantly pre-1946
traditional visual character.
Decision: The Court held:
It was not necessary that the street or the dwelling be
"pristine" in order for the demolition to be
It was relevant to enquire whether the street in question had
been "robbed" of its traditional character by the extent
With respect to a particular building's importance to the
"visual character" and amenity of the local streetscape,
it should be approached from the perception of an average person
walking along the street and looking about.
The term "character", when used in a planning
context, "has a wide meaning and must be considered in the
context in which the term is used in the scheme".
The "street", for which the visual character was
under consideration, was the "whole" of that street,
although, in appropriate circumstances, a particular street for the
purposes of a DCP "may be merely a section of it". For
the purposes of consideration of the Demolition Code, the street
"may well have more than one character".
There must be an interpretation open in P1 to properly
accommodate "mixed" or "varied" character of
the dimension and importance of the subject street. Hence, by
whatever trail of such reasoning was used, it could not be
concluded that P1 had been satisfied.
With respect to the term "loss" in A1.3, there was no
argument from either side that the loss should be measured other
than in terms of "meaningful, "significant",
"concerning" or "unacceptable". And
"significant" would need to be interpreted as "of
significance", rather than, for instance,
While it was acknowledged that the particular demolition did
not have to amount "to the straw that would break the
camel's back", a stage must eventually be reached whereby
successive degradations by small individual percentages caused the
requisite particular building character to be gone, which itself
would mean that there would, by any such demolition, be no
resulting loss of that character.
It had not been proved to the requisite satisfaction that the
demolition of the building on the site would not result in a loss
of significance of the relevant character "within" the
Demolition Control Precinct, if only because it was one fewer such
building in an area that had become significantly degraded.
Compliance with the Demolition Code had not been
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