Restoration plan for Willards Farm receives tick of approval

The historic Willards Farm will start to be brought back to life from early in the new year after Redland City Council’s plans for the heritage-listed property recently received State approval.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said Council had worked closely with the Department of Environment and Science to ensure the c1870s historic farming property could be revitalised for future generations to enjoy while protecting its exciting heritage values.

“If this property could talk it would tell stories of farming history dating back centuries that have helped forge our city’s identity today,” Cr Williams said.

“This history was set to be lost forever in 2016 when the property was facing demolition, prompting Council to step in and buy it for $1.45 million to protect its heritage for future generations,” Cr Williams.

“This is one of the oldest surviving examples of a farming homestead on Redlands Coast and I am pleased that the State has now approved our designs, paving the way for us to create a place for local families to visit and learn about our city’s farming history.

“State-approved restoration works will breathe new life into existing historic buildings including the original farmhouse and fencing, milking shed, creamery, inground well and elevated water tank, and era-specific landscape areas.”

An artists impression of a restored Willards Farm.

Cr Williams said Willards Farm would be the first stage of the 62 hectare Birkdale Community Precinct, an exciting inter-generational community destination.

“Willards Farm covers about 8200 square metres and forms a key hub within the broader 62-hectare Birkdale Community Precinct that the community was consulted in May this year.

“Council’s 2022-2023 Budget includes $12.7 million for the Birkdale Community Precinct, including restoration work at Willards Farm,” Cr Williams said.

Cr Williams acknowledged the work of Council and State officers in finalising plans for the historic property.

“The finalisation of these plans is an exciting milestone in the revitalisation of this property,” Cr Williams said.

“The fact that our plans were approved within a matter of weeks is a testament to the quality of Council’s designs and the strong partnership Council has with the Department of Environment and Science.

“I would like to acknowledge the work of officers as well as the support of Minister Megan Scanlon in supporting Council’s proposal.”

Mayor Karen Williams outside the farmhouse at Willards Farm.

Division 10 Councillor Paul Bishop said he was delighted that Willards Farm and associated dwellings would be restored in accordance with best practice state heritage principles.

“This unique pastoral homestead anchors the 62 hectare Birkdale Community Precinct, which also contains the state heritage-listed former US Army Radio Station,” Cr Bishop said.

“No other property in our part of the world contains remnant habitat, iconic species, evidence of First Nations occupation, pioneer structures hewn from timbers felled on site and the American Radio headquarters that helped transform global democracy during World War II.

“Everyone will want to learn about this place in years to come. Thanks to Council and all who have helped preserve these intrinsic and irreplaceable values.”