Council votes to demolish Mudgee Showground grandstand

Mid-Western Regional Council voted against a recommendation to refuse demolition of the Mudgee Showground grandstand.

A Development Application seeking to demolish the structure was received by Council on November 21, 2017, which provided indicative costings of $776,160 to bring it into compliance with the current Australian Standards and to make safe.

The report by the Senior Town Planner was put to Council at their February meeting, recommending they refuse the DA because the proposal would have a significant negative impact upon the heritage significance of the Mudgee Heritage Conservation Area.

Cr Peter Shelley moved an amendment that the grandstand should be demolished. The Amendment became the motion, which passed seven votes to two.

Cr Percy Thompson spoke against the demolition and said, “I’ve supported for a long time to do up this building because it’s within the Heritage Conservation Area”.

“We’ve got an obligation as a Council to look after our heritage buildings in our shire and Mudgee is the second town settled west of the Blue Mountains,” he said.

“I’ve been approached by a number of people on the committee of the Showground who say they would like to use that building and they’d like it restored.

“If you look at all of the showgrounds all over the place you’ll see that they’ve restored their old buildings. We restored the grandstand at Victoria Park in Gulgong years ago and it came up beautiful and it was a lot more dilapidated than the one here.”

Cr Shelley pointed out that “it is in the Heritage Conservation Area but it’s not a heritage building”.

And said, “old doesn’t necessarily mean we need to spend $700-odd-thousand of ratepayers’ money to do it up. Not when we can spend $40,000 to get rid of it - because it’s an eyesore, it’s unsafe, and it hasn’t been used in six years – then we can go and build a purpose-built grandstand that is suitable for that area.”

The only other Councillor voting against the demolition was Cr Esme Martens, who said, “I don’t think it should be knocked down, we did work to the Library building and everybody agrees now that was a very good decision and it’s a beautiful building.”

However, Cr Des Kennedy replied, “there’s a bit of difference there Councillor”.

She also said, “I would like to see another estimate done to bring it to a safe, usable condition, and not with all the bells and whistles”.

Cr Russell Holden called the report a “back flip” on previous recommendations. And said, “I confess that I’m saddened to speak for the amendment, because I really do like old buildings, but it’s the right thing to do – it’s in the community interest”.

“A long time ago we had a huge amount of community consultation on a Showground master plan, which included a new grandstand. We have in our budget process an allocation for a new grandstand, sure that’s subject to grant funding, but it would still be a purpose-built building,” he said.

The DA for the the demolition included  a structural inspection report prepared by Barnson Pty Ltd, which concluded that the grandstand - erected in 1936 – is believed to have exceeded its design life.

Also that the $776,160 rectification works require almost total re-construction.