WASTE: Gatton Squash Club member Philip Neumann in front of the club's former squash courts in Gatton. Mr Neumann said the news of the building’s impending demolition was “terrible”. Picture: Dominic Elsome
WASTE: Gatton Squash Club member Philip Neumann in front of the club's former squash courts in Gatton. Mr Neumann said the news of the building’s impending demolition was “terrible”. Picture: Dominic Elsome

Planned demolition of iconic building, mural slammed

LOCALS have slammed the decision to demolish an iconic building in the town.

Lockyer Valley Regional Council yesterday announced it would begin the process of demolishing the Gatton Squash Courts building, which includes a large mural to local legend Bob Fifoot.

READ MORE: Town icon set for demolition, green space to take its place

Long-term member of the Gatton Squash Club Philip Neumann said the news the former home of the club would be destroyed was "terrible".

Mr Neumann's late brother Ian managed the facilities for 10 years while the club was still using them, and he said Ian would have been "gutted" by the decision.

The squash club had relocated from the courts in 2003 due to a falling out with the previous owner.

The council bought the building in 2007 to ensure future development in Gatton had land available.

Following this, the club approached the council with the hopes of returning to the facility.

This sparked a near decade-long battle to return, which Mr Neumann said was ultimately a "waste of time".

"It's just been like a white elephant," Mr Neumann said.

Issues with asbestos and the general condition of the facility meant the club was never able to secure a lease.

 

The mural on the side of the building painted in honour of renowned Gatton teacher Bob Fifoot by artist Claire Foxton.
The mural on the side of the building painted in honour of renowned Gatton teacher Bob Fifoot by artist Claire Foxton.

 

In June last year, the council sent a letter to the club informing them of plans to demolish the building, bringing the battle to a close.

"We just knew that was the end then," he said.

Council asset management councillor Janice Holstein said it was "unfortunate" the building and mural had to be removed, but public safety and responsible fund use made it necessary.

"The work required to repair the building would cost more than $850,000 compared to the $185,000 to demolish the buildings," Cr Holstein said.

Mr Neumann described the whole process as a waste, with the goalposts constantly shifting.

"I feel like we had that many meetings at the council up here with the mayor and deputy mayor," he said.

"What a waste of our ratepayers money. If they'd just said straight up 'no' … we would have turned to avenues elsewhere."

He believed the costs to repair the building would have been significantly cheaper had works been undertaken sooner, and the club allowed to rent the space and maintain it.

"Any old building goes derelict when you have no one living in it, but if someone's in it they can maintain it," he said.

The club is having to return to the drawing board to find a new home, with the two courts it presently uses at UQ Gatton not large enough for the number of members.

Mr Neumann said with so many set backs, the club was at a loss and it could be years before it had a new home.

"Most of us will be in wheelchairs before the next court is built," he said.

The buildings will be replaced by a green space until a decision on its long-term future is made.