Ocean baths up for redevelopment

01 Nov 2019

City of Newcastle is inviting expressions of interest to redevelop the iconic Newcastle and Merewether Ocean Baths pavilions in overhauls that could include restaurants, recreational and community facilities and other services.

Newcastle Ocean Bath’s iconic art deco exterior is proposed to be retained in any redevelopment, while new public change rooms, disabled access, car parking, new seating, shading and other community facilities will be mandatory inclusions at both sites.

As well as reinvigorating the baths precincts, the final outcomes will promote access to the Bathers Way, preserve views from lifeguard/first aid rooms and provide swimmers year-round protection from prevailing winds.

“Redevelopment of Newcastle and Merewether Ocean Baths pavilions is an exciting opportunity to rejuvenate and enhance public assets by capitalising on Newcastle’s unprecedented growth in a long-term partnership with the City,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing proposals. One condition that we have placed on the EOI is that the baths must always remain free public assets.

“The City is committed to improving public and community spaces along our coastline, and a commercial partnership could allow us to significantly enhance and manage these precious facilities in a financially responsible way.”

Some 5,800sqm of space is on offer at the 1922-bulit Newcastle Ocean Baths and 2,200sqm at the Merewether pavilion, under leases of up to 21 years.

City of Newcastle Infrastructure Director Ken Liddell said councillors had made it clear they considered the ocean baths the No.1 infrastructure priority.

“In February the Councillors came together for a two-day strategic planning workshop where they nominated the restoration of the Newcastle Ocean Baths as the single most important infrastructure project for the city,” he said.

“Our staff have spent the past six months developing the EOI, as well as resolving a number of potential issues that exist because the Baths sit on crown land.

“All issues have been resolved and we are now able to take the projects to the market. Potential uses under zoning regulations for both baths include restaurants, cafes or kiosks, community facilities, and educational facilities or other recreation purposes.

“The EOI will be followed by a tender process for shortlisted respondents before a lease is signed with the City, which is the Reserve Trust Manager of both buildings for the Crown Lands Division of the NSW Government.

“Any redevelopment of these buildings will be subject to DA determination and the successful lessee(s) will be required to provide some facilities managed by the City, so it can continue to provide lifeguard and pool-cleaning services plus community spaces.

“Parties interested in these redevelopments will have to outline their proposed partnership or joint- venture arrangements, concept plans and previous experience with developments of similar scope and scale.

“Proponents will have to comply with heritage controls as the Newcastle Ocean Baths are listed as a local heritage item in the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan 2012 and located within the Newcastle East Heritage Conservation Area.”

Expressions of Interest can be made via https://www.tenderlink.com/newcastle/ and close on Tuesday 17 December at 2pm.