Urban strategy for historic buildings

THE Newcastle Ocean Baths Pavilion would have boutique accommodation and a restaurant added to it, under one of the ‘‘re-use’’ ideas for reviving heritage sites  set out in the state government’s city centre plan.

The Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy says many of the city’s rich collection of historic buildings have outlived their original purpose and should be put to modern use.

That would create unique developments as ‘‘iconic destinations’’.

The strategy emphasises the suggestions are intended only as case studies for adapting five city heritage buildings, and are not development proposals being considered.

But they were examples to ‘‘provide guidance and encouragement’’ to the owners of the five properties, and others that are similar, in how to implement residential or mixed-use functions, an appendix to the strategy said.

The case studies, from Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, include the baths pavilion, where a kiosk and changing rooms would be retained at the  northern end.

A restaurant could be added to the southern end, and a lift would take guests to a first-floor lounge with private hotel suites in two new wings. 

The first-floor addition could be contained behind the brick facade, except at the ends, and would borrow from the re-use of sites such as the Manly Pavilion in Sydney, the study said.

The Bolton Street car park and historic David Cohen warehouse site could be converted into apartments, with some car parking retained on lower levels behind retailers that make use of the street frontage’s historic facade.

The disused Victoria Theatre, on Perkins Street, should be kept as a theatre, including for film screenings, because of the immense social benefit of restoring the building and demand for  a 500 to 600 seat theatre, the study said.

The Stegga’s Emporium, a row of seven two-storey shops on Hunter Street in Newcastle West, would have a 10-storey apartment tower  added, set back from the facade.

The School of Arts building in Wolfe Street, used as The Loft youth centre, would have hotel and function rooms. 

Building car spaces would be difficult because of mine subsidence, but could be accommodated through a deal with nearby parking stations.

The strategy, which also proposes ending heavy rail services at Wickham and building a transport interchange, is on exhibition for comment until March 17. 

But the architectural case studies document says feedback is not required on its content as the projects are not proposed.

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