The restoration of the 1890s-built Shepherds Hill Cottage is expected to be completed early 2021.
The cottage was originally used a mess hall for colonial military officers and sustained severe damage in a 2015 storm.
Extensive repairs and restoration work to the outside of the Cottage were completed last year in a $730,000 project that included a new roof, plumbing, repair of wooden windows, and renewal of cladding, posts and beams.
Underway is an internal fit out, followed by construction of new outdoor toilets, a storeroom, driveway and parking area, which were allocated $285,000 in this year’s budget.
The restoration project is part of City of Newcastle’s $116 million 2020/21 capital works program and will complement Bathers Way coastal pathway at South Newcastle Beach.
With final approval from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment now secured, we are completing the work required to open this incredible, historic site for public use,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
A heritage architect is overseeing all work on the 182sqm building, which sits on one of the most spectacular pieces of real estate in Newcastle at the top of King Edward Park, offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Port Stephens and the Newcastle coastline through to Dudley.
With its prime position on the Bathers Way coastal pathway it will become a major community asset once restored and I look forward to seeing what options for use are proposed during the expression of interest process.”
Shepherds Hill Cottage forms part of Shepherds Hill Defence Group site, which sits on Crown Land managed by the City.
A Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the site was endorsed by the NSW Heritage Council midway through 2019 after a revised CMP was placed on public exhibition in late 2018.
Expression of interest by potential operators
Once the restoration is completed, council will run an EOI process for a prospective tenant. The successful tenderer will need to comply with the Shepherds Hill CMP and obtain Heritage NSW and development application approval of their proposal.
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.
Shepherd’s Hill Cottage was partially used as the headquarters for Marine Rescue Newcastle until 2015. The organisation will move to a Crown Land site managed by council on the Stockton foreshore. Marine Rescue has accepted a 21-year peppercorn lease for the parcel of land, which will allow the group to construct a new purpose-built command post.
Marine Rescue’s communications tower, which is still on the Shepherd’s Hill site, will be removed by the end of October.