Historic Greenhays in Springwood is set to be demolished

An 1853 home in Springwood is set to be demolished and council cannot stop it.

Greenhays on the highway at Springwood: The 1853 house has been cleared for demolition by a private certifier.

Greenhays on the highway at Springwood: The 1853 house has been cleared for demolition by a private certifier.

A private certifier has approved the demolition of Greenhays (also known as Greenheys) on the corner of the highway and Churchill Street.

The owners of the house applied last year to build 16 dwellings for seniors housing on the site. But it was refused by council and the owners withdrew their DA.

They then went to Urban Approvals, an accredited private certifying authority, which in February approved the planned demolition.

A council spokeswoman said the demolition was approved under a state planning policy as a "complying development".

"Complying development is a combined planning and construction approval for straightforward development that can be determined through a fast track assessment by a council or an accredited certifier. 

"Council is notified of the complying development after approval has been granted by the private certifier. This is notification only. Council has no role in the assessment or determination of this activity. Council has no authority in relation to the proposed demolition of the building.

"Council staff, elected councillors or local planning panels can’t have any role in the determination of ‘complying development’ applications when being assessed by a private certifier," the spokeswoman said.

Council has repeatedly raised concerns against the use of private certifiers.

In January, Cr Mark Greenhill said in a mayoral minute: "This system increasingly relies on certification by building certifiers who are contracted by developers and property owners.

"The problems with the privatisation of the building certification system comes at a time when councillors have been removed from the development approval process altogether. In place of councillors, local planning panels now operate to determine key development applications.

"Building certification should be returned to council staff, just as sensitive development decisions should be made by councillors to ensure that the community good is put before private developer interests."

Greenhays was once listed as a local heritage item but it was removed from the register in 2005 after experts found that additions and alterations had compromised its integrity.

It last changed hands in February 1999, when it sold for $515,000. It was described as a 409 sq metre sandstone house with wide, tiled verandas, four double bedrooms, large formal lounge and dining room.

It is unclear what the owners plan to do at Greenhays. A spokesman said he believed they were looking to sell.