Ratepayers save century-old homestead

A 153-year-old farm house at Birkdale has been saved from developers' bulldozers after Redland City Council bought the property last week.

The 153-year-old Birkdale farm house has been saved from developers' bulldozers after Redland council bought the property last week.

The 153-year-old Birkdale farm house has been saved from developers' bulldozers after Redland council bought the property last week.

Terms of the deal remain confidential but it is believed council paid more than $1million for the 8164sq m Birkdale Road site.

The farm, at 302 Old Cleveland Road East, Birkdale, was the site of one of Redlands first farms and houses the Willard family’s homestead, The Pines, built in 1863.

The deal was struck following confidential meetings late last year when Division 10 councillor Paul Bishop made impassioned pleas for the building's preservation.

Cr Bishop said he was delighted with the outcome and had almost given up hope of saving the site from being subdivided into 12 lots.

"It's an amazing outcome, which will preserve the homestead which has historical and strategic significance because it is next to federal government land which has also been set aside for the community," Cr Bishop said.

"There have been many discussions over the past year on how to protect this building which could not be registered on the local heritage list as it was not owned by council.

"Council bought it so it could be registered and protected, which is a great outcome for the entire city."

Birkdale Progress Association president Pam Spence said a management plan would have to be set up as soon as possible to start the restoration process. 

"It is to be hoped that all will be protected to the fence line as everything there has a story to tell - the residence, the old sheds, the dip site, the stone fence, the baby’s grave and an Aboriginal midden."

The site first came to public attention in July when developers started planning to pull the building down and level the site for housing. 

Capalaba MP Don Brown asked Environment and Heritage Protection Minister Steven Miles to intervene.

Mr Miles signed a Stop Order prohibiting all work while the farm was assessed for heritage value.

That assessment came back in September to say the site was not deemed of state historical significance.

But following further lobbying from Cr Bishop, the council decided to get its investment arm, Redland Investment Corporation, to investigate buying the property in October.

All councillors, except Mayor Karen Williams, Julie Talty and Paul Gleeson agreed to the idea, put before the council by Mark Edwards.

Council will fence the old homestead to ensure the structure poses no safety risks and will draw up a plan to restore the homestead.

Chief executive Bill Lyon said decisions about what will happen with the site will be up to the incoming council.

The homestead is next to surplus land owned by the federal Government, which was earmarked for a large civic project such as a university.

Cr Bishop said after next month's election, the parcel of land would no longer be in his electorate after a group of 11 people, including Cllrs Julie Talty, Kim Hardman, Paul Gleeson, and Mark Edwards requested it be incorporated into Division 9.

"What did a group of the mayor's supporters including councillors, a former LNP state member and former staffer and close family friend have to gain by moving this area when there was no impact on voter numbers in Division 9?" Cr Bishop asked.