The old Forestry Headquarters at the jetty in the 50s.
The old Forestry Headquarters at the jetty in the 50s.

Report reveals limited options to preserve timber heritage

A heritage report has outlined how valuable timber within the old Forestry headquarters at the jetty could be preserved.

The modernist building on the corner of Harbour Dr and Hood St is one of five on the site now owned by Gowings.

The demolition, which is now underway, was approved by Coffs Harbour City Council early last year on the proviso a heritage report and inventory be conducted.

Some of the adjoining buildings.
Some of the adjoining buildings.

John Gowing has confirmed that timber will be re-used where possible in the new building (a mix of commercial and residential, with a DA yet to be submitted) or at one of their existing developments, like Coffs Central, or developments currently underway like the Sawtell Commons.

The heritage report documents some of the valuable items within the main building and ways in which they could be preserved.

They include timber walls, floors and detailing; timber vents; the main staircase; and stylised trees inlaid in the main foyer and along the hallway floor.

The report suggests re-using the timber in a variety of ways: the inlaid trees could be salvaged to create art work to be hung on the walls of any new buildings on the site, while rare timber panelling could be used to create furniture or public art.

 

The heritage report has suggested re-using the inlaid timber trees from the main entrance as art work in any new buildings on the site.
The heritage report has suggested re-using the inlaid timber trees from the main entrance as art work in any new buildings on the site.

The main building opened in the late '40s and was the regional head office for the NSW Forestry Commission (now known as the Forestry Corporation). At the time it was the only three-storey building in town.

The corporation relocated to their new offices on Gordon St in 2018.

Much of the timber inside the building is now rare and protected such as the fire oak flooring on the bottom level and the rainforest timber used throughout.

 

The official opening in the 40s
The official opening in the 40s

The heritage report makes specific reference to the imposing curved staircase:

"Although the staircase has the potential for re-use, consultation with demolition and timber professionals and certifiers suggests its re-use as a staircase is not viable."

In recognition of the site's history the report also suggests any new development should consider the use of new timber elements (ideally locally sourced).

 

The old forestry building at the Jetty Strip now behind demolition fencing.
The old forestry building at the Jetty Strip now behind demolition fencing.

The report also suggests interpretive signs both within the new development and in public places nearby.

"Signs could potentially be made from existing or new timber and would tell a story about the timber industry and the development of Coffs Harbour, as well as highlighting connections between the former Forestry building and the township."

The full heritage report is available to the public via a link which will expire on June 13 this year: https://chcc.t1cloud.com/T1Default/CiAnywhere/Web/CHCC/ECMCore/BulkAction/Get/a3aea14d-d9b3-449f-8277-026bc5c82a95



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