SHOCKED: Catherine Hill Bay home owner Leonie Poole in front of her house, which council planners say should be demolished and built again. – Picture by Simone De PeakALL Leonie Poole wanted was to build a deck at her house so she could see the beach.
Nanjing Night Net

What she got was advice from Lake Macquarie City Council to knock down her $1million home and rebuild something more in keeping with the ‘‘unique historical character of Catherine Hill Bay’’.

Mrs Poole said the recommendation, contained in a report to the council, came as a rude shock.

The house, which faces the bay’s surf club car park, was built with council approval in 1993.

Mrs Poole bought the Flowers Drive house in 2005 for $890,000.

She had followed correct procedures to apply to build a $35,000 viewing deck in the roof.

When council planners rejected the deck, they went further to urge Mrs Poole to build a new house.

‘‘I would highly recommend the applicant consider demolishing the house and redesigning and building a new house with consideration of the unique historical character of Catherine Hill Bay,’’ a council officer said in their report.

The officer said the proposed viewing deck would affect the suburb’s state-listed heritage area.

It was ‘‘out of character with the predominant single-storey, weatherboard miners’ cottages of Catherine Hill Bay’’.

In a letter to Lake Macquarie mayor Greg Piper and general manager Brian Bell, Mrs Poole’s architect and heritage consultant Stephen Booker said the advice to demolish was disgraceful.

He said the council had done additions to the surf club which were ‘‘highly visible and fly in the face of any aesthetic of the conservation area’’.

‘‘Do as we say and not as we do seems to be the philosophy,’’ he said.

Mrs Poole said the council had approved large extensions to miners’ cottages in the suburb.

‘‘There has to be some give and take for the people who don’t have heritage houses,’’ she said. ‘‘Catherine Hill Bay should not be stuck in a time warp.’’

Mrs Poole said the council’s assessment of her plan included 19 pages of criticism.

The report included negative comments about the house’s interior, which Mr Booker said was not their role.

Cr Piper said he did not support the demolition suggestion when the house was built legally.

‘‘At face value, it is not an appropriate comment,’’ he said yesterday.