Ourimbah Masterplan’s implementation will result in loss of historical significance

The timber railway station at Ourimbah, the oldest on the northern rail line.

Ourimbah’s historical significance of an 1800s timber town will be lost if development is allowed to go ahead under the draft Ourimbah Masterplan, says State Member for The Entrance, David Mehan
Hundreds of Ourimbah residents have already signed a petition to Central Coast Council to amend the plan to better protect the heritage township which will be destroyed if it goes ahead in its current form, David Mehan said.
The Ourimbah Region Residents’ Association (ORRA) wholeheartedly agrees.
“If we don’t protect our heritage, you take away the feel of the place,” said ORRA president, Di Willard, “and even though we’ve grown, we are still a village.
It’s a village built on the back of timber and is the historic significance of European settlement in Ourimbah from the 1830s.
With its blue gums, blackbutts, round-leafed gum, spotted gum and white mahogany trees, it was an ideal place for the milling of timber to support a Sydney building boom between 1840 and 1870.
Most of the timber sawn and milled at Ourimbah was used for local buildings, including the railway station, post office and houses along the highway, and that is the precinct the locals and Mehan want to protect.
“Some places have been modernised, such as the real estate agency and the hotel, but they’ve done that keeping within the character of the village,” Willard said.
Submissions to the plan closed on March 28 but residents are hoping the petition will sway Council to amend the draft and make protection of Ourimbah’s heritage a key outcome.
Mehan said this should be done by ensuring the protection of existing heritage structures; limiting the height of structures along the Pacific Highway to single storey; imposing strict character materials and design requirements to any new development along the highway to ensure that there is a good blend of buildings.
There are, at least, eight significant heritage structures within the township, including the timber post office and accommodation, and the oldest timber railway station along the main northern rail line, and one of the few in NSW.
“While these are referenced in the masterplan, there is no plan to maintain the current heritage streetscape, and the Workers’ Memorial is not even noted in the plan,” Mehan said.
“The plan offers nothing more than preservation of heritage ‘islands’ alongside new development, which will have no regard to the existing heritage streetscape.
“The masterplan allows modern four-storey apartments to be built next to single-storey timber heritage cottages, and that’s not an outcome my community wants.
“It’s no use preserving single buildings on their own, then surrounding them with modern developments, as the significance of their historic value is lost.
“You’ve only got to look at what happened at Gosford to see that is not what we want.
“Ourimbah is the only suburb left on the Central Coast where there’s existing continuity of similar character buildings in a single street, and there’s no reason not to protect the whole streetscape.
“Blue Mountains Council has a good record in this regard and has shown it can be done, and there is an opportunity at Ourimbah to do likewise, an opportunity that has been lost elsewhere on the Coast.
Central Coast Mayor Jane Smith said she has asked Council’s Heritage Advisory Committee to consider the matter, provide input and make a recommendation.

Media release Apr 18
Interview Apr 29
The Entrance MP, David Mehan
Interview, Apr 29
ORRA President, Di Willard
Interview Apr 30
Central Coast Mayor Jane Smith
Website, Apr 29
NSW Dept Environment & Heritage

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