Restoring Willow Court

Article image - Restoring Willow Court Willow court before and now during the current restoration. Credit: Derwent Valley Council
Derwent Valley Council is undertaking a major restoration of local heriatge-listed buildings to encourage employment, development and growth in the region.

Willow Court is located in New Norfolk, 35 minutes north west of Hobart.

It has been an important part of the town since as early as 1830 when the original facility opened as the Convict Invalid Depot.

The facility went through numerous name changes and more recent buildings constructed on site, before Willow Court closed in 2000 and the remainder of the facility closed as the Royal Derwent Hospital in 2001.

Derwent Valley Council was requested to consider a partnership arrangement with a private developer when the site was decommissioned.

Since then, Council has taken ownership of some of the more historically significant buildings on the site, and sold some buildings to private developers to help  fundhelp fund restoration of the historic site.

However council is currently restoring the buildings that will remain in public hands.

“The project will allow for the adaptive reuse of four buildings and surroundings before they are irretrievably lost to future generations,” as stated in the Willow Court Preview Report prepared by Council.

“The influx of employees to the town will act as a driver for economic growth for small businesses.

“The benefit for prospective government anchor tenants is various, including reduced accommodation costs, reduced travel costs through being closer to clients, reduced fleet accommodation costs, and build for purpose iconic accommodation.”

Proposed uses for the spaces when completed include an art gallery, theatrical space and a multi purpose art space.

Recent works on the Bronte and Barracks buildings, two of the more historic buildings on site, have installed an electricity supply and restored some of the building’s integrity.

Since 2012, council has spent around $2 million on restoring the site, and is seeking further funding sources to continue to redevelop the project.
Quoting from a report compiled by council:

“For the purposes of the Fundraising Plan, there are two distinct streams of funding: first a commercial stream whereby funds are sought on a commercial basis or for a commercial reuse of spaces or buildings within Willow Court; and second, a conservation  and community stream, whereby funds are sought for extraordinary conservation activities and to support community activities.”

Additionally, grant funding is also being sought to complete the project.

The end result for the community is expected to boost the local economy with job creation in construction, and the longer-term effects of increased tourism.