Newcastle Railway Station plan ‘heritage vandalism’

Filed under Heritage & Historical, News, Transport ~ by Press on  22 Feb 2010

Keith Parsons, Chair of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) Hunter Regional Committee, and former Chair of Newcastle City Council’s now defunct Strategic Heritage Committee,  expressed strong opposition to the notice of motion by Newcastle Cr Buman to convert Newcastle Railway Station into a conference centre.

This is yet another poorly thought-through attempt to justify cutting the historic 1857 rail line to Newcastle Station and an example of gross heritage vandalism.”

Mr Parsons called on Councillor Buman to justify his claim that the Station building is “ideal” for conversion.

We presume he is referring to the main Scott Street building, described by him as ‘the only substantial building’. In fact, it’s a very narrow, 2-storey structure, specifically designed for railway uses, including a refreshment room and upper storey overnight accommodation,” said Mr Parsons.

If Cr Buman proposed adaptive reuse of the vacant upper-storey spaces to  sensitive community uses, we would be happy to support him. We won’t support an inappropriate over-development, such as a conference centre.”

Cr Buman appears not to understand that the entire station complex, including its four platforms, the recently refurbished 1890s canopy on platform 2 and the recycled retort building, constitutes a viable, working, nineteenth century station and brings alive amazing stories from our past.

Given the Scott Street building alone is not suitable for a conference centre, this can only mean demolition of most or all of the rest of the station complex,” said Mr Parsons.

The1878 Scott Street building would have little significance as an atrium to a modern building to the north.”

Mr Parsons called on Councillor Buman take a look at the station from the north.

It is a most  impressive view to a splendid working, example of a 19th century terminus station; a rare survivor with great industrial heritage significance.

We don’t need another out of place high-rise building blocking this view.”

Mr Parsons also called on Cr Buman to cite examples of “other historically important stations that showed the idea could work,” such as Adelaide Station, partly converted into a casino, much larger and more easily adaptable to other uses.

Keep Newcastle Station as it is: one the State’s major and most historic working railway stations,” said Mr Parsons.

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