Jerry Schwartz to submit DA to Cessnock Council so his new cabins can be used by bushfire victims

DOING HIS BIT: Jerry Schwartz outside two of the demountable cabins at his Lovedale property. Picture: Simone de Peak
DOING HIS BIT: Jerry Schwartz outside two of the demountable cabins at his Lovedale property. Picture: Simone de Peak

Hotel mogul Jerry Schwartz is offering free accommodation for those left homeless by the recent bushfires at his Cessnock motel while he works to make a set of recently acquired cabins compliant for those requiring longer term accommodation.

Dr Schwartz, who owns hotels across Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Hunter (including Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley at Lovedale), provided similar temporary accommodation to those left homeless by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

"Everyone has to do their bit. I'm in the accommodation business and this is an opportunity for me to contribute," he said.

"I sent eight demountables to Marysville in 2009. It takes about a year to rebuild a house but some people stayed in them for three years."

The six rooms he is providing at the Cessnock Airport Motel are a temporary measure to help bushfire victims while he works to make a 32 cabins compliant with relevant regulations.

Dr Schwartz recently transported the former mining cabins from North Queensland to land adjacent Crowne Plaza, where he aims to establish an Aboriginal cultural centre with the area's indigenous owners Wonnarua Nation.

"The idea is that they will be available for cultural activities as well as school groups who will be able to stay in them," he said.

EQUIPPED: Each of the cabins includes a full bathroom and air-conditioning. Picture: Simone de Peak

EQUIPPED: Each of the cabins includes a full bathroom and air-conditioning. Picture: Simone de Peak

The bushfire crisis prompted Dr Schwartz to offer the self-contained cabins (each with its own bathroom and air-conditioning) as emergency accommodation to fire victims.

However, he was advised late last year the cabin development was not compliant due to flood risk.

Cessnock City Council advised Dr Schwartz on Wednesday, that while it was supportive of his gesture, he would need an approved development before the cabins could be offered to bushfire victims.

The process is expected to take about six weeks. A council spokesperson said staff had a positive meeting with Dr Schwartz and were looking forward to receiving his development application, which is expected to be lodged next week.

"I think everyone appreciates that these are very challenging times which require immediate and impactful responses," Dr Schwartz said.

"Naturally, we understand that procedures need to be followed, but given the emergency nature of the situation and the many suffering families we will be asking Cessnock Council to provide an urgent temporary DA so that we can offer emergency accommodation to displaced residents."

Meanwhile, Dr Schwartz said he was looking forward to submitting a development application for another Hunter project - the Newcastle Post Office redevelopment - in the near future.

"There is still a bit of asbestos to clear out and we have been stripping lead paint from walls so it can be used again," he said.

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