Heritage authorities will this week begin the process go erect a substantial security fence around Kenmore Hospital in the wake of a deliberately lit fire in recent weeks.
Council general manager Warwick Bennett said this was a key outcome of last week's meeting between his organisation and Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) representatives.
He told The Post it would be a solid fence around the perimeter of the historic Taralga Road complex, with materials to be sourced interstate.
"OEH is doing its best to make it happen. It will pay for it and then try to recoup the money from the (Kenmore's) owner," he said.
Police are dealing with two boys, aged 13 and 14, under the Young Offenders Act for destroy property in company using fire and enter enclosed lands.
It related to a deliberately lit fire that destroyed the former female ward 15 on Saturday, October 16. Numerous fire crews from Goulburn and district took five hours to extinguish the fire.
Detective chief inspector Brendan Bernie confirmed on Monday that police were not looking for any further suspects.
The blaze has fuelled community anger over the state-heritage listed site, sold by the state government to private enterprise in the early 2000s. It culminated in the council's meeting with OEH last Monday.
The latter is finalising an audit on its compliance instructions issued to the owner earlier this year regarding the property's maintenance, repair and security and its obligations under the NSW Heritage Act. The Office is also seeking legal advice on its powers to take regulatory action.
"They are looking at options to take stronger action than every before. I'm impressed with their attitude," Mr Bennett said.
The laws surrounding this were not as "dictatorial" as authorities would like and the council experienced similar frustrations when it came to other properties, he said.
But Mr Bennett believed the two parties were "on the same page" when it came to the site's future. This included the possibility of OEH taking a more "pragmatic approach" to preserving a core group of buildings, while allowing development on other sections.
One option could be allowing residential development close to the Wollondilly River and on other parts of the grounds. This has been proposed by several owners in previous master plans. Another is revival of the sports fields, including the historic cricket oval where Don Bradman once played.
But whether it can be realised is unknown. The GM said he'd had no response from the owner, Australia China International Holdings, despite three emails. The company bought the property in 2015 from LAJC Energy Pty Ltd.
In one of these emails, Mr Bennett suggested that the company "gift" Kenmore Hospital to the Goulburn community.
"We're trying to get it back to an ownership that has a focus and an integrity to save the buildings," he said.
"...The way to do that is to have a people presence."
Mayor Bob Kirk has this week also met with former staff concerned about the deteriorating heritage.
While they had some ideas on its future, the council has also drafted options. One of these involves a "substantial arts and cultural precinct" to unite Goulburn community groups if the property reverts to public ownership.
The council planning department and its consultant heritage advisor are helping OEH in its work. The Office's soon to be completed audit report will also be made available to the council.
Mr Bennett said the former female ward still had some structural integrity, despite fire destroying much of its timber. It was built between 1897 and 1899 and matched the nearby male ward.
Meantime, the council will up the ante on another fire-damaged Goulburn site next week.
The former Saint John's orphanage has been almost destroyed by successive blazes and small outbreaks over many years. The most recent was a fire on October 11 in the former caretaker's cottage at the rear of the Mundy Street property, the second since July.
In July, the council issued owner John Ferrara an order to demolish three buildings surrounding the main 1912 structure within 90 days. Negotiations commenced regarding a timeframe for demolition of the main building, given it contained asbestos and was more complex. However a report on its structural integrity and the possibility of preserving some elements was also required.
Mr Bennett said while Mr Ferrara had some discussions with demolition contractors, "no real action" had occurred at the site since councillors' July decision.
"We believe the time for discussion and negotiation can't go on forever and it's time for court action," he said.
A report to next Tuesday's meeting will recommend this action in the Local Court if there are no moves to demolish the three outer buildings by November 30. The same would apply to the main structure if the order was not acted upon by March 1, 2022.
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