The future of the Commercial Hotel is in question after a motion was moved at a recent meeting to investigate reasons why it shouldn’t be demolished.
Cr Needham said the Commercial was a constant discussion point at meetings and when he asked a staff member for a solution, he was told the only thing council could do was issue a demolition order.
“He wasn’t even serious about it [but] given the right circumstances we can do it,” Cr Needham said.
The councillor thought requesting a report asking why the pub should not be demolished would “give it a nudge along”.
“Somebody has to care about the main street of Yass.
“What’s changing is slowly the Commercial Hotel is deteriorating, it seems like there’s not much appetite for doing anything.”
He said his first preference would be to see the historic building restored to its former glory, although perhaps not as a pub.
However, he confirmed if the report stated the hotel posed a risk to the community he would put forward a motion to have it demolished.
“I can’t see that the owner is going to stump up the cash to return it to its former glory,” the councillor said.
The Commercial was not included on a list of heritage buildings in the impending draft Yass Valley Local Environment Plan, which will replace the existing 1987 Yass LEP.
“As it is not being listed as an item the building has no particular protection,” Liz Makin, council’s strategic planning manager said.
However, it is in the heritage conservation area surrounding the main street.
“It normally means that a development application would need to be lodged for demolition,” Ms Makin said.
The planner said any redevelopment of the site would need to be consistent with the heritage values of the main street.
For a demolition order to be instated Ms Makin said the building or parts of the building would have to be deemed as a threat to public safety.
A previous report to council in 2010 by an independent engineering company states the building didn’t present any immediate risk. The report says there would need to be significant work done on parts of the building including the verandah, to make it safe for occupancy.
Many locals are concerned the history of the building would be lost if it were torn down.
One such resident is Ann Nicholson who has experience in renovating old buildings. Ms Nicholson restored a heritage building in Newcastle after many advised her to knock it down. (See her Letter to the Editor, page 8).
The semi retired solicitor has read the reports and believes the building could be saved.
“I think the main street itself is absolutely gorgeous… it would be a shame to have a modern building among the heritage [buildings],” Ms Nicholson said.
She said the cost of demolition was significant and the owners would need to weigh up that cost with renovations.
“Derelict is only a state. When things are boarded up it looks derelict,” she said.
Ms Nicholson said councillors should consider what they want the street scape to look like in the future.
“It’s not just a case of knocking it down or keeping it, it’s what you’re going to do with it.”
The report will be brought back to the next general council meeting, to be held on Wednesday May 23.
The Tribune contacted one of the owners and they declined to comment at this time.