Family's plea: let us rebuild

Chris, Pat, Nicole, Mark and Kevin McNamara lost everything in a house fire, but have been refused council permission to rebuild.
Chris, Pat, Nicole, Mark and Kevin McNamara lost everything in a house fire, but have been refused council permission to rebuild. Lee Constable

LOSING their family home to a house fire last year was only the beginning of the McNamara family's heartache.

It has been over a year and Pat and Nicole McNamara look unlikely to be given council approval to rebuild their four-bedroom Queenslander home, which was gutted by fire on October 6 last year.

"It was terrible thing to go through," Mrs McNamara said.

"We thought it would be pretty simple though, our house burnt down so we now rebuild it."

Instead of starting the rebuilding process straight away the McNamara family has faced numerous council roadblocks and they have now been asked to apply for a material change of use before they can rebuild.

"All we want to do is rebuild our home in the exact same spot," Mr McNamara said.

"We had been living here for the past 20 years and all our boys grew up here.

"I don't see why we would need a material change of use if we are rebuilding the same thing."

Mackay Regional Council director of development services Peter Cardiff said the zoning classification for Palm St had changed in 2006 and the area was now classified as light industrial.

"Palm St is prone to flooding and it is now classified as a low impact industry area," Mr Cardiff said.

"The other residents who live on Palm St are allowed to continue to live there but there will be no further residential development allowed."

Mr Cardiff said because the McNamaras' house burnt down and had become uninhabited the family would now have to apply for a material change of use, but there was a strong chance that their application would not be accepted.

"Given the recent summer of disasters... the council has to use its discretion and we now have more information available on which areas will flood and Palm St is right on the edge of the Pioneer River"

Although Mr Cardiff said Palm St was a flood prone area Mr and Mrs McNamara said their home had never flooded.

"The house is three metres high, we use the downstairs part for entertaining, no one lives down there," Mr McNamara said.

"During the really big floods, when half of Mackay was under water, we didn't even have water underneath the house."

Mr Cardiff said there was not even a slim chance that the council would approve the McNamara family's plans to rebuild.

"No, absolutely not. They need to take their insurance payout, sell their house on Palm St and find somewhere else to live," Mr Cardiff said.

The McNamaras say they will fight to rebuild their home.

Topics:  house fire mackay regional council

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