Paul Battle from the Newcastle Men’s Shed. PICTURE: Darren PatemanTHE head of the Newcastle Men’s Shed has called for the Baird government to turn the old administration building at the former Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot into a “community hub”.
On Monday the Newcastle Heraldrevealed the state government plans to sell off part of the 18-hectare depot –abandoned since 1994 –and demolish the large administration and amenities building.
The NSW Transport Department says building is “very dilapidated, vandalised and contains hazardous materials including asbestos”, but community groups in Newcastle want the government to hold onto the building.
One of those groups is the Newcastle Men’s Shed. The shed’s membershavebeen forced out of theirformer home at the old BHP administration building, and Paul Battle from the group said the rail depot would be an ideal home.
“Personally for me it would be like coming home because I used to work on the railways, in that building,” he said.
“That building would be outstanding,” he said.
“It’s the right size that it could be a home not just for usbut a number of community groups, we couldturn it into a bit of a hub.”
He said the group had written to local MPs, and was hoping to “open up lines of communication” with the government.
So far the government hasn’t warmed to the idea.
A spokeswoman for Transport saidthat while the government was “interested in hearing feedback from the community”any “adaptive reuse” of the building “to current building standards would likely be cost prohibitive, depending on the use”.
“We’ll continue to keep the community informed of any plans for the site’s future,” she said.
Transport says the final cost of demolishing the administration building has yet to be finalised, but Mr Battle questioned whether refitting the building would be more expensive.
“It’s not going to be a short-term exercise anyway because by the time you start these things it takes a little while,” he said.
“But I would hope it would be something that can be at least investigated, it would be a shame to lose it.”
On Monday the Heraldrevealed government plansto sell-off a large chunk of the Depot are under way, with the Baird government admitting much of the “residual railwayland”at the site –outside of heritage-listed areas – was considered “surplus to operations”.