Incorrect report in Newcastle Herald regarding contract for Newcastle Ocean Baths upgrade

24 Dec 2020

A report in today’s Newcastle Herald incorrectly claims that the architecture firm that in 2017 developed widely criticised concept designs for the Newcastle Ocean Baths pavilions has been awarded the contract for work to the pools and surrounds.

As stated in a City of Newcastle media release issued earlier this week, it has awarded a contract to GHD Pty Ltd for work to the pools and surrounds. The contract does not include work to the pavilions, which is a later stage and to be resolved in consultation.

Yesterday online and today in print, the Newcastle Herald incorrectly claimed that GHD Pty Ltd was responsible for the drawings of a “boxy new modern pavilion”. The Herald included one of these drawings in its online and print editions.

As raised with the Herald yesterday, a controversial design of the pavilion which the Lord Mayor and Council ruled out progressing more than 12 months ago, were done by GHD Woodhead. This is a different company to GHD Pty Ltd. Not only do they have a different name, but they also have a different ABN, different staff and a different Board of Directors.

Had the Newcastle Herald approached City of Newcastle for comment, or GHD Pty Ltd, this unfortunate error would have been detected. As is sometimes the case, the Herald chose not to seek comment from City of Newcastle before publishing the inaccurate story.

The Herald story has generated a significant amount of concern among the Newcastle Ocean Baths community, and has been shared online by a number of prominent people with large followings. All of this community angst could have been avoided had the Newcastle Herald fact checked their story.

City of Newcastle has on multiple occasions over the past 12 months been forced to correct factually incorrect and sensationalised reports from the Newcastle Herald regarding the Newcastle Oceans Baths. These ‘stories’ are usually accompanied by photos of the 2017 concept designs, despite City of Newcastle and the elected Council confirming several times these designs are not proceeding.

The only development occurring at the Newcastle Ocean Baths at this point in time is to upgrade the pools and their surrounds. The contract awarded to GHD Pty Ltd for the development of concept designs of the pools and surrounds has occurred following extensive community engagement.

We again reiterate that any redevelopment of the pavilions will occur in consultation with the community, including the Community Reference Group, which City of Newcastle established earlier this year.

City of Newcastle looks forward to the new year and a new approach from the Newcastle Herald to reporting on matters relating to the restoration of the Newcastle Ocean Baths.