Steffan Harries

What if You Want to Demolish a Character house? Strategies for Developing Pre-1946 Properties in Brisbane

In Brisbane, character properties hold significant historical and cultural value, shaping the city’s architectural identity. However, there may come a time when development necessitates considering the demolition of such properties. This delicate process involves navigating a maze of regulatory frameworks to ensure that any action taken respects Brisbane’s heritage while accommodating urban development needs. Here, we explore strategies for developers looking to work with or develop character properties, focusing on the use of Brisbane interactive mapping, understanding the character overlay guide, and navigating planning maps in Brisbane.

Understanding the Regulatory Landscape

Before any demolition or development can occur, it’s crucial to understand the character property’s specific overlays and protections. Brisbane City Council’s planning scheme, particularly the Traditional Building Character Overlay, plays a pivotal role in determining what is permissible.

Traditional Building Character Overlay

Properties within this overlay are subject to stringent regulations aimed at preserving the architectural and historical integrity of Brisbane’s character homes. It’s essential to consult Brisbane’s interactive mapping tools to identify whether a property falls within this overlay and understand the implications for development.

Navigating the Approval Process for Demolition

Demolishing a character property in Brisbane is not straightforward and requires careful planning and consideration. Here’s a step-by-step guide to navigating this process:

  • Research: Use Brisbane interactive mapping to determine the property’s zoning and any overlays that apply. This initial step is crucial for understanding the restrictions and requirements for development.
  • Pre-Application Consultation: Engaging with Brisbane City Council through pre lodgement meetings can provide valuable insights and guidance on your proposed development, including the feasibility of demolition.
  • Development Application: If demolition is considered necessary, a development application (DA) must be submitted. This application should detail how the project will comply with the relevant character overlay guide and planning maps in Brisbane, alongside justifications for the demolition.
  • Community Consultation: Often, proposals involving the demolition of character properties require a period of community consultation, allowing for public input and feedback on the development plans.

Why should you talk with a town planner?

In the below table, we’ve provided just a simple example of what could and could not be assessable demolition works when it comes to a pre-1947/pre-war house in Brisbane:

Image depicting parts of the Dwelling that are ‘forward’ of the highest and rearmost ridge of the original roof – becoming assessable demolition work.Image depicting parts of the Dwelling that are ‘behind’ of the highest and rearmost ridge of the original roof – potentially not requiring approval for demolition.
Demolition of character house applicationExempt demolition of pre-1946 dwelling house in Brisbane

Strategies for Successful Development

Developing character properties in Brisbane, particularly when demolition is involved, requires a balanced approach that considers both heritage preservation and modern urban development:

  • Architectural Integration: Design new developments in a way that integrates with the surrounding character area, even if demolition is approved. This approach helps maintain the aesthetic continuity of the neighbourhood.
  • Heritage Impact Assessment: Conducting a heritage impact assessment can demonstrate your commitment to preserving the area’s cultural significance, potentially easing the approval process.
  • Sustainable Development: Incorporating sustainable practices and materials in the new development can align your project with broader city planning goals, enhancing its appeal to both the council and the community.


The decision to demolish a character property in Brisbane should not be taken lightly. It requires a thorough understanding of the city’s planning framework, a strategic approach to development, and a deep respect for the architectural heritage that these properties represent. By utilising tools such as Brisbane’s interactive mapping and adhering to the guidelines within character overlays, developers can navigate the complexities of bringing new life to Brisbane’s historic sites. For more detailed guidance on working within Brisbane’s regulatory framework for character properties, consulting with planning experts can provide the insight needed to achieve a successful outcome.

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