Orange Mayor Cr Reg Kidd has welcomed the decision by the Western Regional Planning Panel to recommend saving Caldwell House, a heritage building alongside the new DPIE head office.
The 1937-vintage, former health office building, which has been vacant for a number of years, was the subject of a legal dispute between Orange City Council and Health Infrastructure which owns the site.
In July last year, Orange City Council rejected an development application by Health Infrastructure to demolish the building, arguing it could be saved and the unstable asbestos in the building would have to be dealt with whether the building was demolished on not.
After a hearing, the Western Regional Planning Panel has now ruled in favour of the arguments put forward by Orange City Council, and will recommend to the NSW Planning Minister that the building be saved.
In the reasons for its decision the Panel found “It is clear … the Council and the community value and take pride in local heritage values, and that extends to the social and streetscape values that they assign to Caldwell House. It is evident that both the Council and the community have a strong view that there is an appropriate role for Government to show leadership and assign value to heritage when making risk management and site reuse decisions.”
The Panel gave approval for the former nurses’ quarters on the corner of Sale and Dalton Street to be demolished but recommended that Caldwell House be retained.
Mayor Reg Kidd said the recommendation vindicates the Council’s aim of preserving local heritage.
“This is an important building for the heritage of Orange and I welcome the recommendation that it should be preserved for future generations,” Cr Reg Kidd said. “Despite the fact that the building has serious asbestos problems, the Council has steadily argued that these problems will have to be rectified whether the building is saved or demolished.”
“I believe the minister will take a close look at this recommendation and acknowledge that now that the new DPIE headquarters has opened across the road, there is huge value for the government in keeping the heritage building so it can be incorporated in a new re-use, by the government or a private developer.
“Private developers will be queuing up to work with a site that big right across the road from the head office of a major government department. The heritage element will be the showpiece of the site.
“The Council has breakthrough plans for the other end of the DPIE site, and with a key heritage building nearby, that whole neighbourhood is set for a major lift.
“There are always risks and costs for the Council when a dispute is escalated to the next level, and a matter goes to the Regional Planning Panel for resolution. It’s not a decision the Council takes lightly. I’m just pleased that in this case, the arguments in favour of keeping a local heritage item has won the day.”
The WRPP’s ‘Determination & Reasons’ can be downloaded from the ‘View’ button on their site.