ON July 7, the State Heritage Register Committee rejected the Upper Hunter Shire Council’s application to nominate Murrurundi’s Wilson Memorial Hospital as state heritage building.
The decision was moved by members Dr Brian Lindsay and Ms Sheridan Burke, as the hospital “is unlikely to meet the threshold for State heritage significance”.
Mathew Pringle, Director Environmental and Community Services said the decision was disappointing.
“We [Council] prepared a nomination and sent that in and the heritage council came back and basically said that it shouldn’t proceed,” Mr Pringle said.
“That doesn’t go any further now,” he said.
The Department of Health NSW will now demolish the 101 year-old building and replace it with an emergency department and two staff accommodation units.
The new building will include an inpatient unit, resuscitation and treatment bays, consultation rooms, allied health treatment rooms and ambulance parking.
Hutchies construction were awarded the contract in December 2019, with works set to begin early next year when the new Murrurundi Hospital works are completed.
A Murrurundi community group led by Ray Hynes have expressed their concern over the demolition plans and said they will now call on the New South Wales Government to preserve the original 1919 building.
However, Murrurundi resident Peter Carlin said the Hunter New England Health and State Government worked very closely with the community throughout the project proposal and design process.
“I am in favour of the existing building being demolished and a nurses quarters being built on site along with a repositioned car park,” Mr Carlin said.
“The new hospital is nearing completion…all this was agreed to in the consultant that took place previously,” he said.
“If we were to keep every building and item just because it is old, therefore historical, Murrurundi would still have dirt roads, no water supply or electricity,” he said.
“The building has fulfilled what it was build for and as like its previous incarnation, needs to be demolished to make way for the latest development in health care,” said Peter Carlin.
Related Story: Wilson Memorial: Council Applies For Heritage Protection – December 16, 2019.