‘WWII hall in Greenslopes to be demolished, council will buy the land to build public park’
The Courier Mail – Friday 20 August 2021
A heritage-listed World War II era hospital in Brisbane will be demolished and the highly-contaminated land rehabilitated, with a new park to be built in its place.
The former Australian Army hospital, located opposite to the entrance of Greenslopes Private Hospital has been fenced off since 2013 due to asbestos concerns.
But progress has finally been made, with Brisbane City Council’s plan for the site this week made public by the federal environmental watchdog.
The documents revealed the former Red Cross Hall on Headfort St will be almost entirely demolished, bar retaining some heritage-listed elements.
The hall and hostel buildings were built in early 1945 by the Red Cross to support recuperating returned soldiers.
It comes after the Department of Veterans’ Affairs agreed to sell the site to BCC for a “concessional sum” of $1m on the proviso it be turned into public parkland.
And the link to Queensland’s war history will not be lost, with the council planning to set aside part of the land for veterans’ not-for-profit Legacy Queensland to build a new headquarters should they choose to do so.
According to BCC, in a letter to Coorparoo Ward ratepayers, the DVA had concluded there was no “financially viable solution” to retain the buildings.
A heritage impact assessment report revealed demolish the buildings was the cheapest option, estimated to cost $1.8m.
Renovating both the hall and hostel buildings would have cost an estimated $7.5m and retaining the hall but demolishing the hostel would have cost about $5.4m.
The buildings on site were constructed with “significant amounts of hazardous material”.
It is riddled with asbestos through the roof, ceilings, internal walls, wall battens, some external walls, in the floor and even in the seals.
Lead based paint was also used and the soil at the site is contaminated with “organochlorine pesticides” and zinc, along with asbestos from the building that has degraded over time.
According to documents, about 600 cubic metres of soil — enough to fill a quarter of an Olympic swimming pool — will need to be removed.
The council has indicated the new public park will “retain some of the architectural elements of the current site that can be preserved” and which offer some heritage value like the brick entrance way and some elements of the brick facade.
Federal Griffith MP Terri Butler, who alongside local advocate Matt Campbell have been campaigning the hall be fixed, said it was “difficult to trust the Liberals” on the project after years of inaction.
She has called on the community to have their say on the latest plan, with consultation set to close in just days on September 1.
“Let’s make sure our community’s voice is heard,” Ms Butler said.