By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
KEITH Upton has won his four-year battle with the Queensland Heritage Council which has just released his Civic Theatre from its restrictive heritage listing.
A jubilant Mr Upton said yesterday he was pleased the council had at last seen sense and had lifted the building off the register.
The move will allow him to make future plans for the property.
Mr Upton screened the last film at the Civic Theatre in 2001 because of competition from new cinema facilities in Gladstone.
Since that time he has tried to have the badly dilapidated building removed from the national heritage register, but with no success.
The listing has prevented Mr Upton from developing the site. Similarly no developer would touch it because of its listing despite its prime position on the main street.
The building became a liability for Mr Upton, now 79, costing him more than $50,000 in rates over a four-year period. Other costs mounted as he fought the listing.
"I can tell you at my age it can be a very intimidating thing to have to challenge a decision of government,'' he said.
"Such a challenge has much uncertainty about it and the potential cost could be alarming.''
Mr Upton said his battle to have the building struck from the register was most stressful on him and his wife Nola. "I don't know what would have happened if it had continued much longer,'' he said.
Yesterday Mr Upton thanked everyone who had supported him in the past few months, including a number of business people who backed a petition calling for the building's deregistration.
About 3000 names were collected on the petition urging the lifting of the building from the register last year. It was tabled in Parliament by the Member for Gladstone Liz Cunningham in October last year.
"I was overwhelmed by the support given by the general public and I would like to thank you all personally,'' he said.
"What pleased me most was that when I needed it most the Gladstone public rallied to support me.''
According to the Queensland Heritage Council website, the Civic Theatre was registered because of the part it played in the local film scene.
The website mentioned the "...intact auditorium, projector room and canvas seats'' as significant features.