Saturday, December 24, 2011

I smell a rat - the demolition of the Regent Theatre in Brisbane

This is the interior of the beautiful and historic Regent Theatre built in 1929 in the Queen Street Mall which is, as we speak, being demolished to make way for a multi office tower.

Despite its historical signifigance and a vehement campaign by the Save the Regent Group, the theatre was not granted heritage status because the plasterwork was "probably" not original when it was redeveloped in the 1970s.

Since demolition has begun, artefacts of the theatre have been delivered to Regent Theatre Historical Society, with the plasterwork containing horse hair, proving that much of remodelled theatre was original and should have been granted heritage status. This echoes the first person accounts from people who worked on the redevelopment in the 70s who confirmed that much of the original plasterwork was incorporated into the new theatre during the rebuild.

The Queensland Heritage Council now admits they never conducted an inspection of the site, but rather relied on the findings of a Government department. Based on their recommendation, the developers were granted a "Certificate of Immunity" and have been able to start demolishing an irreplaceable part of Brisbane history.

This is an absolute disgrace.

Hopefully people power can rise above incompetance and big business tactics. If you would like to help, you can cut and paste the below and email the Deputy Premier, Andrew Fraser at with the following:

Dear Deputy Premier,

Along with thousands of other Queenslanders who want to save the Brisbane Regent theatre from further destruction, I was deeply concerned to discover in recent media reports that DERM provided misleading advice to the Queensland Heritage Commission about the status of material in the Showcase cinema. I am even more concerned that the QHC offered the opinion that the Showcase and its surrounds was not worth being listed, and later rejected a heritage application for the Elizabeth Street facade of the theatre, without even inspecting the site.

The Regent is a much-loved building and the last of its kind, and it should be restored for future generations. I call on the Minister to order an IMMEDIATE halt to demolition work on the site, to launch an inquiry into the roles of DERM and the QHC in the redevelopment application process, and to enter negotiations with Brookfield Multiplex with the aim of incorporating a commercially viable multipurpose cinema and live performance space within the Regent Towers development.

Yours sincerely,
(your name)

Thank you in advance for your help. Here are some links:

Save the Regent
'Replica' Regent may be more original than first thought - Brisbane Times 15 December 2011 
Heritage Council did not inspect Regent, admits Chairman - Brisbane Times 16 December 2011