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Council in battle to protect city’s heritage

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City of Newcastle (CN) has stepped in for the second time in as many months to protect the city’s built heritage from being lost to potentially inappropriate developments.

CN has placed an Interim Heritage Order (IHO) over 22 Victoria Street, Mayfield to stop the impending demolition of the home, which is considered likely to have local heritage significance.

It is the second Mayfield property to be saved by CN under IHO provisions, after Council voted in February to halt the redevelopment of 14 Sunderland Street, which is believed to have once been the home of Thomas Braye, a former Mayor of Waratah.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was important to balance the desire for development with the need to protect valuable aspects of Newcastle’s built heritage.

“Our city has a unique mix of heritage conservation areas, archaeological sites, heritage-listed buildings and places that are recognised and protected for their character and significance,” Cr Nelmes said.

“It is important that heritage is given due consideration in city projects and development assessments, in line with our commitment under the 2040 Community Strategic Plan and Heritage Strategy 2020-2030 to celebrate, protect and promote our city’s unique built and cultural heritage.”

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CR Nelmes said it was important to balance the desire for development with the need to protect valuable aspects of Newcastle’s built heritage.

Councillor Margaret Wood said it was important to respect and preserve the heritage of the city.

“It’s clear that the community of Mayfield are very engaged with their suburb and really care about its heritage, and that’s something that is important to the elected Council as well,” Cr Wood said.

“Buildings that are at risk of permanent damage are the kinds of circumstances where you have to take urgent action to protect the fabric of the building.

“We want to do everything we can to ensure we do conserve buildings such as these and follow the proper processes to assess their significance to the local community.”

CN Executive Director Planning and Environment Michelle Bisson said the Interim Heritage Orders would allow City of Newcastle to work through the process of assessing both properties without either being at risk of imminent harm.

“The Interim Heritage Order provides a temporary stay on the development of these sites, prohibiting the demolition or alteration of the properties during the next 12 months,” Ms Bisson said.

“This will provide the time needed for City of Newcastle to undertake detailed heritage assessments of both properties, in order to properly consider whether they should be listed as items of local heritage significance under the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan and prepare a planning proposal if necessary.”

A Preliminary Heritage Assessment Report identified that 22 Victoria Street was likely to be of local heritage significance as “a substantially intact example of the Federation Bungalow style of architecture”.

It is also thought to be a “rare example” of the residential work in a local context of prominent Newcastle architect Frederick George Castleden, who designed or contributed to some of Newcastle’s most recognisable buildings including the former David Jones store, Newcastle Ocean Baths pavilion and part of Christ Church Cathedral.’

The mid-Victorian style property at 14 Sundland Street property is thought to be one of the earliest houses constructed in the Mayfield/Waratah area, circa 1880.

It is representative of the evolution of the suburbs from agricultural to industrial settlements and is a relatively intact example of the style of mid-Victorian architecture.

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