Good news, for now

For those of you who, like me, woke up this morning to the horrible news that the Gas and Coke building had been destroyed by fire: be calm. Well, for the moment.


The fire damaged the old wash-up building, the one set back from the main road. It’s not the lovely old building by the railway gates, though I can’t help but feel it’s only a matter of time before something BAD happens in there. ABC 1233 rang to ask what I knew about it but I was pretty useless, other than to say, “It wasn’t me!” I don’t know what Jemena are doing with the site, I don’t know if the Coke building is heritage listed* † (though a thumbnail photo of it appears on Council’s heritage web page) and I don’t know what the plans are for the site as a whole.


Maybe this will be a good thing. Maybe the fire will trigger some kind of action. Maybe.

* No, it isn’t.

† Yes it is!

15 Responses to Good news, for now

  1. Christine Bruderlin says:

    It’s certainly listed in the book Architecture Newcastle as a significant building. Surely there is a good use for the building. Would Jemena assist financially to help someone set up a studio or gallery or cafe etc.? Weren’t Renew Newcastle looking at the site?

  2. Hi, this is John Kingsley-Jone from Jemena. Earlier today we advised ABC Radio in Newcastle that Jemena plans to remediate the site within the next 18-24 months. At present we are investigating options to determine the best way to remediate this site.
    As is our standard practice, we will preserve any heritage buildings on the site.

    • Mark MacLean says:

      John, this is excellent news – but 18-24 months is a long time. What plans do you have for maintenance of the old admin building in the interim?

  3. crazy eddie says:

    Probably the Black Ops section of the State Government clearing the land preparatory to building a transport interchange.
    Or bored teenagers.
    One or the both.

    • Mark MacLean says:

      I definitely prefer the Black Ops theory, though the idea of the State Government being run by bored teenagers kind of appeals.

  4. g says:

    The building is heritage-listed under the 2012 Newcastle LEP. You need to select “Local Environmental Plan” in the Basic Search function. Otherwise the default map only shows structures listed on the State Heritage Register.

    • Mark MacLean says:

      Ah! Thanks, g. My inability to do decent searches. Do you have any info about the level of protection provided by such a listing? That is, does the LEP provide genuine protection or is it a paper tiger? If it DOES provide protection then what onus falls on the property owner to maintain the building in a state of good repair?

      Thanks for following up.

      • g says:

        Heritage is heritage. The fact that it’s heritage-listed by Newcastle Council vs. the State simply means the building has local significance rather than something larger. A heritage listing doesn’t necessarily require an owner to maintain a building. It usually provides a framework under which future development of that building must occur. Usually, buildings are heritage listed because of historical importance, good examples of period architechture, etc. I’d guess the owner is well within their rights to let it sit as it has, but if/when they choose to develop the site, there will be restrictions that are generally designed to keep the building looking the same.

      • Mark MacLean says:

        Thanks, g, that makes sense.

        Looking at the items for Hamilton North listed on the NCC LEP I got the sense that LEP listing is almost like a register of “interesting or significant items and places”; the old garden in the gasworks was listed, as was the ELMA factory. Do you know who gathered the core data? National Trust is cited; I know that in other places the NT often maintains its own registers of significant places; did NCC take their data from here?

        I should make clear that I’m not an “I’m against everything” ratbag but I am genuinely interested to know how, for example, the LEP listing came into play when the ELMA factory was repurposed for secondhand shops, or how much the LEP listing my influence future uses of the old garden in the gasworks.

        Thanks for you well-informed and clear responses.


      • g says:

        We’ve just about exhausted my limited knowldge of heritage items. Unfortunately I don’t know how places (or items) make the cut. As to how the listing plays into redvelopment, that would vary on a case-by-case basis. In the end it’s about protecting the integrtiy of the structure and not so much what goes on inside.

      • Mark MacLean says:

        1. Making the cut. I note that the listing in the NCC LEP relies to some extent on info from the National Trust. I’ve been involved with the NT elsewhere and often that organisation will record items on a register; they may be industrial, cultural, architectural or whatever. But NT registers in themselves don’t have any powers (there are other levels of listing that do).

        Perhaps what happened here is that the NT recorded various aspects of Hamilton North’s built, cultural and architectural heritage and when NCC was creating its LEP, the NT register was the first port of call for data. This would explain the inclusion of, for example, the now almost completely obliterated garden that was part of the manager’s residence in the gasworks.

        2. Agree with what you say about structural integrity. We do like a period façade!

  5. well lets hope Jemena do keep there word…it is an excellent building and needs to be saved

  6. Michael says:

    And again 12/11/2013
    Any one have more details of the 2nd time in a few days.

    • Mark MacLean says:

      No more than the snippet on ABC 1233, Michael. Will keep you posted if I hear any more.

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