Willards Farm to be restored as the jewel in the crown of Birkdale Community Precinct

Redland City Council is progressing exciting plans to upgrade the historic Willards Farmhouse, to ensure the community can access and celebrate the historic building.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said Councillors today discussed Council’s plans for the property, including the potential impact of the recent decision by the Queensland Heritage Council (QHC) to extend the footprint of the property’s heritage protections.

“Council is committed to protecting the Willards Farm homestead, which is why we spent $1.45 million in 2016 to save it from being demolished for housing,” Cr Williams said.

“Our decision to buy the property came after the Queensland Heritage Council refused a 2015 heritage application because they felt it did not have State heritage values, leaving us with no choice but to buy the property to protect its local heritage value.

“Council believes the Willards Farmhouse itself does have heritage values, which is why we added it to our City Plan local Heritage Places Register in June 2016 and it is also why we have well-advanced plans to upgrade the property.

“We want to work with the State Government to ensure our plans for the Willards Farm homestead can proceed and so Council officers will lodge a notice of appeal to the QHC decision of 22 March, so we can sit down with the State Government and work through these plans.”

Cr Williams said Council’s decision would also allow officers to understand the reasons for the QHC decision.

“During the application process, State DES officers recommended a much smaller boundary be included, similar to what Council would like to see protected,” Cr Williams said.

“Despite the recommendation by State officers and having not visited or inspected the site, the QHC decided to increase the heritage boundary from around 0.8 hectares to about 4.2 hectares, a decision that is not supported by independent heritage consultants working on the heritage management of the site or by DES heritage officer recommendations.”

Cr Williams said Willards Farm would form part of the 62-hectare Birkdale Community Precinct and its restoration was an integral part of delivering this intergenerational site for the Redlands Coast community.

“We are making it into the jewel that it rightly deserves to be in the Birkdale Community Precinct crown,” she said.

“It is imperative we are able to fully deliver the exciting future planned for Williards Farm under the soon to be released Draft Birkdale Community Precinct Master Plan, which was informed by ideas suggested by the community.”

Council has commissioned Sims White Architects to prepare detailed design and construction drawings including detailed cost estimates to support future restoration works for Willards Farm.

“Council is looking to fund $1.5 million towards the restoration in the upcoming Budget and, following today’s decision, officers will work with their State counterparts to ensure plans for the property can proceed, including identifying State funding opportunities.

“Council is the only stakeholder that has invested considerable funds to save this property and remains committed to the protection and restoration of the Willards farm complex using an appropriate heritage boundary.”