IMB Bank's new $22m head office plan may require archaeological dig

Links to the city's past: The site of IMB Bank's new headquarters may require an archaeological assessment after historians found it could have remnants of old Wollongong buried underground.
Links to the city's past: The site of IMB Bank's new headquarters may require an archaeological assessment after historians found it could have remnants of old Wollongong buried underground.

The IMB Bank may need to conduct an archaeological dig before building its proposed new $22 million headquarters, documents lodged with Wollongong City Council reveal.

Details of the proposed seven-storey “A-grade” office block at 47 Burelli Street – flagged last month – have been lodged and will be open for public comment until December 13.

Among them is a detailed heritage assessment by local archaeological firm Biosis, which outlines the block’s potential for having historical relics buried underground.

Known as Civic Place, the existing building on site was constructed in the 1960s – according to the Biosis report – and before that housed various buildings during the development of inner-city Wollongong.

Thus, it may have “locally significant archaeological remains associated with the early 19th Century to mid-20th Century residential development”.

Given that the new proposal will “sterilise” the site, consultants have recommended archaeological monitoring take place during demolition, with the possibility of “deeper archaeological excavation” depending on what relics are found.

Biosis has also recommended the future building should incorporate the site’s history and any archaeological findings into the final design. 

Other development application documents show the IMB head office would rise more than 32 metres high and be spread over seven levels, providing a total floor space of about 6700 square metres.

The applicants have asked the council to grant a variation to planning rules about building separation between the upper levels of the IMB headquarters and neighbouring corporate square.

There would be two levels of underground parking with space for 92 cars, the plans say.

Normally, the council would require that a building of this size have 112 car spaces, however the developers say this can be reduced by 10 per cent as it is next to a bus stop.

This leaves a shortfall, but the developers say a “green transport plan” will reduce the number of employees using cars. This would include the use of car pooling, walking and cycling and public transport.

“The proposed development will service the needs of the Wollongong community by providing a new commercial premises in an attractive inner-city location, which in turn will encourage and promote patronage of businesses in the surrounding area,” the application says.

The plans will be considered by the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel, due to the building’s high capital investment value.