Newcastle City Council terminates Marine Rescue Newcastle's lease early

Moved out: Newcastle Marine Rescue treasurer Graham Silcock and unit commander Ron Calman in 2016. Picture: Marina Neil
Moved out: Newcastle Marine Rescue treasurer Graham Silcock and unit commander Ron Calman in 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

Marine Rescue Newcastle will have to look for a new permanent home after Newcastle City Council told the crew it would not be able to move back into Shepherd’s Hill Cottage – which had been its base since 1997.

Treasurer Graham Silcock said it was “a shock” and “a kick in the guts” when council said the lease would be cancelled in September – almost two years early.

Storm damaged: Shepherds Hill Cottage in 2015. The damage forced Newcastle Marine Rescue to find a temporary headquarters. Picture: Darren Pateman

Storm damaged: Shepherds Hill Cottage in 2015. The damage forced Newcastle Marine Rescue to find a temporary headquarters. Picture: Darren Pateman

The unit has been based in a temporary headquarters since storm damage in 2015 pushed the crew out. But Mr Silcock said he had believed they would be able to move back into the cottage after it was repaired.

“Unit membership is destabilised by the termination and the ongoing uncertainty about a permanent base,” Mr Silcock said. 

A council spokesperson said a clause of the former agreement allowed either party to terminate the lease if damage made the property “unfit for occupation”.

Archive: The Shepherds Hill Cottage in 1985. Picture: Fairfax Media

Archive: The Shepherds Hill Cottage in 1985. Picture: Fairfax Media

He said the Office of Environment and Heritage asked council to submit a new Conservation Management Plan, with consideration of the site’s history and landscape as well as a cultural assessment of the former army quarters. 

“Marine Rescue's return is among a range of uses considered in the Conservation Management Plan,” he said.