Heritage-Listed Middenbury House in Toowong May Be Up for Mixed Development

Once the exclusive site for many social gatherings in Brisbane — including a party for Edward, the Prince of Wales, in the 1920s — the heritage-listed Middenbury House may be set for a revival as a public venue for recreation or dining, or even with residential towers on the property. 

Consolidated Properties Group (CPG), which bought 600 Coronation Drive several years ago, has now filed DA A005881543, seeking to develop Middenbury House and its grounds.

The heritage-listed house will be reused and re-established, alongside plans to build three 15-storey residential towers on the property.  Though the decision on its final use has not been finalised, ideas like a cafe or bar, as well as a wellness center, have been floated during the discussions about the redevelopment.

James McGinley, the CPG Head of Residential, said that they got ideas from the local community who was receptive to their plans to turn the derelict site for public use.

Photo Credit: Developmenti/BCC

Apart from the residential towers and the old house’s revival, plans for this Coronation Drive site will also include bikeways and a large parkland, which will be managed by Brisbane City Council. There will also be an area prepared for the landing site of the upcoming Toowong-West End green bridge.

Photo Credit: Developmenti/BCC
Photo Credit: Developmenti/BCC

Access to the house and the beautiful riverbank frontage as a social venue was withdrawn in the late 1950s when the Commonwealth of Australia bought the property for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Middenbury House then became part of the studio operations, while additional buildings were erected around it. 

For the most part, however, the over-150-year-old house’s structure and architectural features remained intact. Its refurbishment, on the other hand, will have minimal alterations since it is a heritage-listed property. 

“The proposed development has been architecturally designed to merge seamlessly within the surrounding built form, through the use of a variation of materials and breaks in the façade,” the developers stated in the application. “The site primarily faces Coronation Drive, which features street tree plantings along its entire frontage as well as two large heritage-listed fig trees near the western boundary.

Photo Credit: Developmenti/BCC
Photo Credit: Developmenti/BCC

“The state heritage listed Middenbury House can be seen from the Archer Street frontage. This development will enhance the view of Middenbury House by incorporating open space between the building and the street frontage. Deep planting along Archer Street will improve the streetscape by softening the view between Middenbury House and the existing streetscape.”

Photo Credit: Developmenti/BCC

DA A005881543 was filed in November 2021 and is still under assessment as of press time.

Proposal to Turn Former ABC Site into Public Park Gets a Boost

Since the Sunland Group abandoned its plans to build the touted ‘Champagne Flute’ development the former ABC Brisbane headquarters in Toowong, talks of turning it into a park have been reignited.

There have been suggestions to turn it into a public park with community facilities like gardens and barbecues, but to make this a reality, Brisbane City Council would have to buy back the land.

Deputy Mayor Krista Adams confirmed that the Council is interested in purchasing a portion of the lot at 600 Coronation Drive. This statement came after Greens MPs initiated a survey asking residents what they what to see happen at the former ABC site.

The survey by Greens MP Michael Berkman and Councillor for The Gabba Jonathan Sri revealed that most of the respondents are looking forward to seeing a public garden on the site.

Around 88% of all respondents believe the government should buy back the ABC site. Only 4% said the government should not buy back the land whilst the remaining 8% are still not sure.

Almost 2,500 people participated in the survey and more than 100 local residents came to the community forum to share their ideas.

When asked what else they would like to see with the public space, locals suggest a spot to have a picnic, barbecues, a space to throw a frisbee, or a public pool.

Photo Credit: michaelberkman.com.au

“This area of Brisbane is becoming incredibly high density and multicultural, and backyards are increasingly either non-existent or tiny for most people. How amazing it would be to have community food gardens, especially giving people from other cultures the chance to grow traditional food plants and share this knowledge with the community,” one resident shared.

Other suggestions include incorporating a few cafes and restaurants, public art space, or a space for outdoor performances.

“We’ll especially be looking out for funding to buy back the ABC site and land a walking and cycling bridge to West End at that location,” Mr Berkman said through a Facebook post.

Meanwhile, Sunland announced earlier that they are planning a new development for the site, but will not give further details until a new development application is lodged.