Sitting dormant and fire-torn at the entrance to Windsor township, the Jolly Frog looks set to come back to life as Hawkesbury Council takes it under its wing.
Vacant for the past three years, the historic pub was gutted by fire a year ago and has become the subject of local consternation, with residents torn between preserving memories and ridding the area of a depressing eye-sore.
Under the mixed blessing of a heritage listing, the semi-collapsed and hazardous site will require extensive works and specific development applications to be revived.
To help ensure the hurdles are overcome, Hawkesbury Council has determined to take the Frog under its wing, as part of its programs to invigorate the area.
“Council is undertaking a number of different initiatives in the locality to increase visitation and stimulate economic activity in the region,” Matthew Owens, city director of planning told PubTIC.
“These include the preparation of a Tourism Strategy, including working with tourism operators to develop specific actions plans, and the Hawkesbury Horizon project, which is aiming to develop regionally significant, investable projects that will be a catalyst for economic activity in the Hawkesbury.”
Like many older buildings, the structurally unsound hotel was also found to contain hazardous materials such as asbestos. Owens reports that this has been stabilised and no immediate threat remains. He also relays that there was significant damage to the internal support structure, and structural reinforcement will be required to enter the building.
Given the troubled plight of the site, PubTIC posed the question recently as to how much of the burden of the repairs should fall on the taxpayer. Council reports that although no application has yet been submitted by the owners, it is offering what help it can to smooth the way.
“Council’s assistance in this matter relates to free advice from Council’s Heritage Advisor and other planning staff, and assistance with the timely assessment of any development application that the landowner is required to submit to Council for determination.
“A development application is required to undertake any works, including demolition of part or all of the structure, due to the heritage listing on the site. Development application determinations are usually issued subject to compliance with consent conditions.”
To date Council and stakeholders have discussed the situation, and Council reports the owners intend to submit a DA for proposed works “as soon as possible”.
“The comments provided to the landowner followed a site meeting last year that was attended by the landowner and consultant, the insurance company representative, Council’s Heritage Advisor and Council staff.
“The comments related to advice as to what approvals were required, and what information would need to be submitted with that application; heritage report, etc.
“Comments were also provided to a preliminary heritage assessment submitted by the landowner’s consultant late last year. These comments related to the preliminary findings and reinforced the need for a development application.”
Built in the 1880s as the Carrington Hotel, the pub became Podesta’s Hotel in the 1950s before finding its current moniker of the Jolly Frog in 1973.
In its hey-day it was the jumping soul of Windsor, hosting the likes of AC/DC, Cold Chisel and INXS.