BRA vison is for Berrima Gaol to be re-purposed as a community asset

Since the NSW Government decided to permanently close Berrima Goal in 2019, the Association has progressively refined its “vision” for the future use of the site.

Our principal objective is that the property be retained by the community and re-purposed as a significant cultural, economic and social asset and open to the public as a significant tourist destination in NSW.



The Association’s “vision” for the future use of Berrima Gaol is to:

  • Protect the State significant heritage values of the site by retaining and adaptively re-using existing structures, fabric, and spaces. The site would not be subdivided.
  • Create a vibrant Arts and Cultural precinct for the Southern Highlands located in Berrima
  • Engage the Gundungurra, and Tharawal people, the traditional custodians of the Southern Highlands region, in planning for the site
  • Create a major tourist attraction drawing visitors from across Australia
    • The Old Berrima Gaol Museum Experience tells the story of the Gaol’s history, of the warders who worked in the Gaol and the inmates who served their sentences in the Goal.
    • Develop partnerships, for example with the NSW Justice and Police Museum, the Australian Museum (Sydney and Canberra) the Berrima District Historical and Family History Society might involve joint exhibitions and school programs linked to the NSW curriculum.
  • Develop open space as venue for a Farmers Market, community gardens
    • Community Garden under the South Wall. The extensive open space below the South Wall is perfectly placed to establish a Weekend Farmers Market; Community Garden; Specialist produce gardens; bush tucker, culinary, medicinal plants or be used as an open-air venue for single use special events – pop up marquees.
  • Protect the heritage significance of Berrima by complying with Council’s local planning objectives and controls; contribute to Councils’ strategic plans for the Shire
  • Create community infrastructure for meetings, training, and education
    • Re-purpose the former CSI factory space as the BERRIMA SCHOOL of ARTS as an auditorium for around 100 plus attendees for a weekday and evening performances, literary events and conferences; a village Hall in Berrima; available for hire for education and training, U3A groups and community associations in the Highlands.
    • Community led management team would collaborate with the Arts Council of Australia, NSW Museums and Galleries, the National Trust of Australia, and the Southern Tablelands Regional Arts and Development Organisations (RADO) as well as established organisations such as Carriageworks and Sydney Theatre Company to develop a range of specialist outreach programs in music, theatre, dance, and the visual arts.
    • The Southern Highlands Writers Festival proposed Berrima Gaol become its permanent home in the Highlands after 10 years of wandering across different Highlands’s venues. Adjacent internal rooms, the Gaol kitchen and the vast outdoor courtyard can meet the needs of this and similar festivals or conferences for special presentations, interview and break out rooms, catering, and social interactions.
  • Re-purpose spaces for low-cost accommodation and for commercial leasing to create new local jobs and stimulate investment
  • Incubate entrepreneurial youth and capacity building social programs
  • Protect residential amenity
  • Open rooms on site as work spaces for social enterprise initiatives

    Our vision – a ‘for the community-by the community buy-back’ of the Gaol

    • retains the Gaol’s current layout, structure, footprint and as much of the existing fabric of the former Berrima Correctional Centre as possible to re-purpose the prison cells, offices, other rooms and open spaces as described above
    • no new development outside the Wall, except for re-purposing the tennis court for parking of up to 60 cars
    • requires rezoning the site from the present SP1 (Correctional Centre).
    • proposes new uses for the site that comply closely with the Objectives and Controls of the E3 zone (WLEP 2010)
    • complies with Section 5.10 (Heritage Conservation) of the WLEP (2010)
    • No further subdivision of the site is proposed
    • Contributes to the Objectives of the
    • Wingecarribee Community Strategic Plan 2015-2031, Heritage conservations Clause 5.10 of the WLEP (2010),

    • Local Planning Strategy 2015-2031; Berrima DCP and Character Statement;

    • WSC Housing Strategy

    • Southern Highlands Inspired, Arts and Culture Strategic Plan 2015-2031.

    Our vision strengthens the heritage significance of Berrima which is derived from the fact that

    • the village is the only settlement from the colonial Georgian period in Australia that did not develop into a major town. The undeveloped nature of the village is what establishes its heritage significance.
    • Over-development of the Gaol site threatens this unique cultural asset that belongs to all Australians.
    • Berrima and its surrounding landscape curtilage was nominated by the Berrima Residents Association in mid-2019 as an item of State Significance on the NSW Heritage.The NSW Heritage Council is currently considering this nomination.
    • Proposed development of the site as a major hotel, intensive residential housing, nursing home, commercial shopping complex is completely incompatible with the objectives and controls of the Berrima Heritage Conservation Area, the Wingecarribee LEP(2010), the Berrima DCP and other strategic plans of Council for the whole of the Southern Highlands.
    • Berrima is a fine example of the final stage of UNESCO’s story of forced 19th century migration. Berrima’s early colonial history demonstrates the successful integration into society of ex-convicts as recorded in the 1841 Census. Consideration is being given to nominating Berrima as the twelfth and final site to the 11 locations in the UNESCO Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property. Old Fremantle Gaol, open to the public for tours and as a cultural institution, is one of the 11 sites on this list; its inclusion establishes that Gaol as a premier tourist attraction in Western Australia from which the site derives significant economic and cultural benefits.



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