It is high time the state government intervenes in the sad Kenmore Hospital saga and rectifies its past mistakes.
Saturday's destructive fire in the former female ward 15 was only a matter of time, given neglect and vandalism at the State Heritage Listed site.
Former Kenmore Hospital museum volunteer Leone Morgan has warned Heritage NSW and Arts Minister Don Harwin of this possibility over the past two years.
The council has also made representations, acting on its own and community concerns over degradation of this fine collection of buildings.
In March the NSW Heritage Council instructed Heritage NSW to commence compliance action against owner, Australia China International Pty Ltd, to meet 'minimum standards of maintenance and repair' under legislation.
Heritage NSW assures us it is working with the owner to address neglect and vandalism. But it is clear that this softly, softly approach, with its emphasis on cooperative compliance, is not working.
It's a huge site, far too big for one caretaker to monitor.
Yet the company knew what it was purchasing in 2015 and the obligations it carried. This means adequate security and acceptance of the underlying state heritage controls.
A State Heritage-listed property carries obligations. Any outfit worth its salt would have undertaken this due diligence.
The company cannot now complain that these controls are hindering development plans. Six years on from the purchase, nothing meaningful has occurred at the site. There is no master plan or development application, only early talk of motel accommodation, Chinese medicine, Buddhist studies, martial arts, vocational training and more.
They are no different to the two previous owners who promised so much and delivered little.
Mayor Bob Kirk put it succinctly when he said that "nothing of value had happened at Kenmore in 20 years."
Either the state government should step in and repurchase the property for community use or it should crack down on its lamentable deterioration. It sold Kenmore for a song - $3 million - in the early 2000s.
Our message to Australia China International is that if you have no intention of developing the site, get out of the way and let someone else do it.
The Goulburn community deserves much better.
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