Like clockwork, the Regent Theatre has a new owner, and with it a renewed interest in its future. But a Heritage listing brings its own set of challenges.
The Regent Theatre was placed on the State Heritage Register in February 2020 largely due to the efforts of the locally-based advocacy group Revive the Regent.
"This is a significant day for the Mudgee community and ensures a venue of immense importance will continue to be a reference point to the history of the region," said Nationals MP Dugald Saunders at the time.
Previously the facade of the building was the only aspect protected.
So what now of the building? A new owner brings with it a refreshed feeling of potential for the building, but its place on the Register bring with it its own set of roadblocks to any radical changes.
The Mudgee Guardian photographed the interior extensively in a tour of the theatre in 2020 and even then it was clear that there was a lot of work to do, even before the pigeons had made it their home. 'Demolition by neglect' was a term thrown around at the time by some.
There is a DA that was approved by Council in 2015. Can the new owner go ahead with what the DA allows or does the listing hamstring any future plans to radically alter the historic landmark?
We put these questions and more like it to the NSW Heritage Council, hoping to shed some light on what people can expect from the future of the building.
More on the Regent Theatre:
- Theatre is saved from limbo following successful auction
- 2019: Modified Regent Theatre DA goes on exhibition
- What does the inside of the Regent Theatre look like in 2020?
- Council eyes Regent Theatre auction outcome
- Regent Theatre placed on State Heritage Register
- Opinion: There is only one Regent
- Opinion: The retention of the theatre in Mudgee
The Mudgee Guardian reached out to the NSW Heritage Council to ask specifically about fixtures, amenities and accessibility challenges as well as what it to become of the racist mural that looms large in the candy bar.
A NSW Heritage Council spokesperson responded to say that major works and changes to state heritage items require Heritage Council approval.
'The intact interiors including cornices, wall lighting, and theatre seating are some of the many aspects which contribute to the state heritage significance.'
The Heritage Council said it encourages the ongoing use and sympathetic adaptive reuse of items listed on the State Heritage Register.
As expected, the existing DA doesn't hold much sway against a heritage listing.
'The works contained in the Development Application approved by the Mid- Western Regional Council would require the further approval of the Heritage Council now that the item has been listed on the State Heritage Register.'
We asked the spokesperson to clarify details surrounding the racist mural, amenities and accessibility options and we will update the story once they reply.
In a nutshell, new owner, Sydney Publican Bob Micola has his work cut out for him when it comes to restoring the theatre. Sure, there is an approved DA in place and he said he has his own plans for it, but everything must go through the Heritage Council first, a challenge to be sure.
I wonder if the ice cream wrapper that was forever stuck in the ceiling vents will stay too?