Heritage NSW will finalise its audit report of Kenmore Hospital and assess potential regulatory options against the owner.
The announcement followed an inspection on Tuesday by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, after representations from Mayor Bob Kirk, council general manager Warwick Bennett and staff, and Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman.
It came after a fire on Saturday afternoon that gutted the former female ward 15 of the former psychiatric facility on Taralga Road where trespassing and vandalism has become an ongoing issue.
NSW Fire and Rescue and police forensics are still investigating the circumstances.
In a statement, a spokesman said the council had offered full assistance and would provide staff resources to help the Office of Environment and Heritage.
"Council sees it as critically important that (Office) act quickly in taking compliance action to have the site secured from further vandalism," he said.
"It is critical that (owner) Australia China International Holdings act to protect and preserve Kenmore Hospital."
The inspection and audit also came one year after Heritage NSW instructed the owners to effect repairs.
Police have not ruled out that Saturday's fire was deliberately lit but have also voiced their concerns about sustained vandalism, theft and small fires at the property.
A Heritage NSW spokesperson said maintenance of heritage properties was a key obligation of owners, who had to meet "minimum standards of maintenance and repair under the NSW Heritage Act 1977."
Kenmore Hospital and its collection of Walter Liberty Vernon designed buildings was placed on the State Heritage Register in 2005.
"Prior to the weekend fire (in March), the property owner had been instructed by Heritage NSW to undertake immediate actions in regard to structural and personal safety at the site," a Heritage NSW spokesperson said.
The issue of a formal order had been delayed, pending the inspection.
However the community has been voicing its concerns to Heritage NSW for at least two years.
The spokesperson said the authority met with Goulburn Mulwaree Council in May, 2021 to discuss "shared ongoing concerns about the owner's management of the site," again on September 22 and Monday, October 18.
That's only some comfort to Goulburn man and heritage building restorer, Peter Trama. He, wife Pauline and their business oversaw restoration of the former Marian College convent and chapel in Clinton Street, among other historic local properties.
He said he was "fuming and deeply saddened" by Saturday's blaze and the fact that "Kenmore had not been looked after."
"Various developers have promised they would but haven't delivered. Is there any other excuse besides they don't care," he said.
"They've bought the buildings and if they did their research why would they let them fall over?"
Mr Trama inspected the buildings several years ago to give a cost estimate on restoration to an agent of the current owner, Australia China International Pty Ltd.
That work has not progressed and he argued the structures had suffered since from vandals stripping out cedar features, fireplaces, balustrades, slate tiles and much more.
Moreover, he believed no meaningful repairs had been undertaken in response to the this year's Heritage NSW instruction.
"If (the former) Saint John's orphanage (in Mundy Street) is anything to go by, and I think it is, I can only see this vandalism escalating. What will be next - one of the front buildings?" Mr Trama asked.
"This will not stop until someone goes in there full time, secures and fixes the buildings."
He believed maintenance and repair was a far more cost effective solution.
Mr Trama told The Post it would not be difficult to generate revenue from development of some areas to facilitate other restoration. For example, the former nurses quarters on the corner of Taralga Road and Wollondilly Avenue could be converted into accommodation, as it was previously to house extra Police Academy students.
Similarly, sympathetic residential development on the grounds could cater for the increasing number of Sydney and Canberra buyers in Goulburn.
"I'd like to see it as a gated community, also giving community access during the day," he said.
"Restore the fields, the pool, the gardens and then develop the land. That way it's kept safe and becomes a tourist attraction...If I had the money I'd buy it tomorrow."
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Mr Trama said urgent action was needed to conserve what he described as the most significant cluster of buildings in Australia designed by NSW government architect, Walter Vernon. If private developers would not do so, it was time for the state government to find a solution.
"Are we just going to let it go?" he asked.
"We need someone in authority to stand up and say this is not right and be tough about it. I take my hat off to Goulburn Mulwaree Council for taking a lead even though it's outside their control."
Australia China International Pty Ltd has not returned requests for comment.
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