Boland St Cottage former owner prepares to sue Heritage Tasmania

Former owner of the Boland Street Cottages, Michael Newton, at the site. Picture: File
Former owner of the Boland Street Cottages, Michael Newton, at the site. Picture: File

The former owner of the Boland Street Cottages will seek $6 million in damages from the Tasmanian Heritage Council for what he believes is “lost opportunity” for the site.

Michael Newton had planned to knock the buildings down after purchasing the site in 1997 but was stopped – with the property listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register.

The developer that purchased the property off Mr Newton in 2016 lodged a Development Application with the City of Launceston to construct a five-storey, 30-apartment building.

Mr Newton says he is preparing legal proceedings where he will seek $6 million in damages from the Tasmanian Heritage Council and lobbyists for refusing his plans for a similar development in the early 2000s.

Across the years he had plans for eight apartments, a medical centre and carpark on the site, but none proceeded.

“I wasn’t able to develop them when I was in a position when I could,” he said.

The 68-year-old will argue the inclusion of the cottage site on the heritage register had prevented him from developing the area and securing an income.

“It was all outgoings for 16 years – that was my superannuation,” he said of the site.

Mr Newton said he was ordered by Heritage Tasmania to make capital improvements at the site – including drainage, flooring and roofing – despite the cottages being destroyed in a fire seven years prior to his ownership. 

“They maintained the line that I’d let a heritage property fall into disrepair,” he said. 

A Tasmania Fire Service report found the buildings had been “fully destroyed” in a 1991 fire, which burnt for 25 minutes at 700 degrees.

He said efforts were made in 1998 to remove the site from the heritage register- but it was not until 2003 that Mr Newton discovered they were still listed.

Heritage Tasmania would not comment on the threat of legal proceedings.

“The Tasmanian Heritage Council can confirm that the property at 4-6 Boland Street, Launceston, had been entered on the Tasmanian Heritage Register and it decided to remove this entry on 19 September 2012 after the place’s capacity to meet the registration criteria under the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995 was reassessed,” a spokesman said.

“The consequence of the removal of an entry from the Heritage Register is that the place is no longer subject to the Heritage Council’s works approval process under Part 6 of the Act.”