Interim Heritage Order claim for Newcastle Ocean Baths dismissed by Heritage NSW

18 Mar 2022

City of Newcastle (CN) welcomes the decision by Heritage NSW to dismiss a request for an Interim Heritage Order lodged by a local community group. This dismissal means the long-awaited restoration of the Newcastle Ocean Baths can now proceed without delay.

Heritage NSW, in making its determination, noted that the Newcastle Ocean Baths construction is similar to that of all State Heritage listed baths within New South Wales. The determination noted that the construction method of pool floors for these types of ocean baths, such as sand, concrete or rock, is not integral to the heritage values for ocean baths in New South Wales. As such, Heritage NSW has determined that there is no threat to the heritage values of Newcastle Ocean Baths in undertaking the works to renew the pool and promenades.

The City hopes Heritage NSW's decision to refuse the Interim Heritage Order brings an end to the continual stunts and misinformation by the group Friends of Newcastle Ocean Baths who have for more than two years attempted to prevent this much needed upgrade from occurring.

As the City has repeatedly made clear, the edge of the pool must be raised due to rising sea levels. Unless this happens, the Baths will be excessively battered during ocean storms and simply won't survive another 100 years.

Without concreting the rock floor that currently exists at the Newcastle Oceans Baths, the increase in the height of the pool edge would make it too deep for most people to be able to walk the Newcastle Ocean Baths. By placing a relatively thin concrete base over the rock floor, the existing depth of the pool can be retained. The 15cm increase in the edge of the pool will not have any impact on sand's ability to continue to flow in from the ocean, meaning pool users will continue to be able to walk on the sandy bottom as they have for the past 100 years.

If for some reason there was a delay in sufficient sand flowing into the pool, the City has already committed that it will transport sand to the pool floor.

CN worked closely with the community to develop the design for the stage one upgrade which included key heritage considerations. We look forward to completing the stage one work next year and to handing back to the community an oceans baths that exists for benefit of our entire community.