EXCAVATION work at Newcastle’s heritage listed James Fletcher Hospital have been suspended at the request of the Office of Environment and Heritage.
The site, also known as Newcastle Government Domain, has a rich history leading back to 1801 from use as military barracks to an industrial girls school to various psychiatric institutions.
Doctor Ann Hardy is a local historian and heritage advocate who has done extensive research on the site in question.
She made numerous inquiries into the work being done due to concerns over whether approval had been sought or an archaeologist was present during the excavations.
Upon news that the proper approval was absent, she said she was ‘‘disappointed’’.
‘‘It’s not acceptable that they haven’t complied by going through the right channels,’’ she said. ‘‘And I still ask the question of why is there a need for the car park?’’
Dr Hardy is concerned the car park ‘‘seriously destroys the heritage character of this historic site’’ and ‘‘impacts on future interpretation of the military aspects of the Domain’’.
According to a spokesman for the Office of Environment and Heritage, the office received an application from James Fletcher Hospital in October to ‘‘undertake excavation for a carpark within the historic hospital precinct’’.
‘‘The excavation work commenced before the matter had been determined by OEH Heritage Division,’’ the spokesman said.
He said while the work had been stopped until further notice, ‘‘the works undertaken so far are considered to be in an area less likely to be of archaeological significance.’’
Brett Evans, manager of capital works at Hunter New England Health, said they were working with the Department of Environment and Heritage to "ensure modifications on the James Fletcher campus are carried out appropriately’’.
‘‘While we work through advice received from the Department, preparatory works on site have stopped,’’ he said.
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