Chimney stack’s days are numbered

THE demolition of a New Norfolk landmark on the former Royal Derwent Hospital site is likely, with a development application to remove the Boiler House chimney stack on The Avenue being assessed by the Derwent Valley Council.

Engineers recently inspected the 25m chimney, the Boiler House and other infrastructure on the site and their report found that the chimney had been corroding badly in the years since it was installed. The Boiler House was built in 1954 and housed three coal-fired boilers that produced steam to heat the Royal Derwent Hospital buildings.

It was decommissioned just prior to the hospital’s closure in 2000 and has had little use in the intervening years. The site and its buildings were bought by Nathan and Tracy Vagg in 2021 and they plan to renovate the Boiler House and use it for commercial purposes. Their development will also require the demolition of an oil tank, a water tank and gantry, a conveyor system and coal bins.

The engineers’ report recommends the removal of the chimney and a report by architect and heritage consultant Graeme Corney backs the recommendation. Mr Corney said the chimney was rusting badly and while wires had been fitted to keep it stable, ongoing deterioration had left parts of its base badly affected. He said the chimney would inevitably collapse but that might not happen for a decade or more.

Mr Corney said there was no prudent and feasible alternative to demolishing the chimney because the rust could not be slowed and would eventually contribute to the chimney’s failure. He said the Vagg’s proposal for the building was appropriate and there would be no impact on heritage values by removing its coal bins, oil tank and conveyor system.

Mr Corney said it was important that the building’s water tank, gantry and chimney were demolished as soon as possible to make the site safe. He acknowledged that the demolition of the chimney would have an impact on New Norfolk’s cultural landscape but there was no realistic alternative. Mr Corney said the demolition of the chimney for safety reasons outweighed its cultural heritage significance and its removal would benefit the community more broadly in the longer term.

Meanwhile, the Derwent Valley Council is also considering a development application by Andrew Filipek for an automotive business in a building about 100m from the Boiler House. Mr Filipek’s business repairs cars and light commercial vehicles and associated services including engine and transmission services, brake and clutch repairs, and wheel balancing. An existing building on the site will incorporate three work bays, an office, a storeroom and a lunchroom.

JOHN ANDREWARTHA

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