A new long-term base has been found for Marine Rescue on the Stockton foreshore after five years without a permanent home.
A Crown Land parcel of land managed by the City of Newcastle is proposed to become the new home of Marine Rescue under a peppercorn lease pending Council approval next month.
Marine Rescue would then build a new command post just a few metres from South Stockton boat ramp, at a projected cost of about $1 million, with views to Nobbys to the south east, Dyke Point to the west and Walsh Point to the north.
(L-R) Marine Rescue's Regional Operations Manager Steve Raymond with Ron Calman, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Bill Johnson and Stuart Lawson at the South Stockton boat ramp.
The 700sqm headquarters will be funded by the State Government and maintained by Marine Rescue Newcastle for the duration of its 21-year lease.
“We are delighted to have found a suitable long-term home for Marine Rescue after working closely with them to find temporary bases since their former site at Shepherds Hill was severely damaged by a super storm in 2015,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
“This new site on the edge of the Hunter River at the end of King Street gives the volunteers immediate access to the Hunter River to continue keeping Newcastle’s boating community safe both inside and outside the harbour.”
Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos thanked both City of Newcastle and the State Government for their support for the unit’s volunteers.
“Our members are thrilled that they will have a permanent new home right on the waterfront,” he said.
“This is very welcome news, coming just weeks after the delivery of the unit’s new $535,000 rescue vessel.
“The base will feature the latest marine radio communications technology and equipment. Having the unit’s new rescue vessel right in front of the base will also improve crews’ response times so they can be on the scene of an emergency even faster.
“This great new asset is only possible thanks to City of Newcastle’s cooperation in providing a long-term lease over this valuable site and the State Government’s investment of $37.6 million to provide new and upgraded facilities and rescue boats for our volunteers.”
Meanwhile, the restoration of the 1890s-built Shepherds Hill Cottage, which sits at the top of King Edward Park on the Bathers Way walk, will be completed over the next few months, ahead of an expression of interest process to identify potential operators.
Internal fit out and construction of new outdoor toilets, a storeroom, driveway and parking area will proceed following a $285,000 allocation in the 2020/21 City budget, pending Heritage approval.
"Following approval from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, we will complete our plans to open this incredible, historic site for public use," the Lord Mayor said.
“A heritage architect will oversee all work on the 182sqm building, which boasts stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Port Stephens and Newcastle coastline through to Dudley.
"We’re currently preparing to build the South Newcastle Beach section of Bathers Way while planning the most complex stage through King Edward Park to deliver Newcastle a coastal pathway to rival any in Australia and boost local tourism.”
The City has already carried out $730,000 in repairs to the timber cottage, including a new roof and plumbing, repair of wooden windows and renewal of cladding, posts and beams.
Part of Shepherds Hill Defence Group site, Shepherds Hill Cottage sits on Crown Land managed by the City.
A Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the entire site was endorsed by the NSW Heritage Council midway through 2019 after a revised CMP was placed on public exhibition in late 2018.
The cottage, battery observation post and gun emplacement were originally designed to defend Newcastle's burgeoning coal port after the 1878 Royal Commission into Colonial Defences.
The proposed new Marine Rescue base at Stockton will be considered by the elected Council on 25 August.