Morpeth is vying for a place on the State Heritage Register to preserve its historic fabric indefinitely.
The town’s Morpeth Heritage Conservation Group launched the application with the NSW Department of Planning on Wednesday.
It argues the Morpeth Heritage Conservation Area, which surrounds the town, meets all of the criteria used to determine whether something is of state significance.
It says the street layout hasn’t dramatically changed since 1845, which has made the Morpeth of today vastly different from other long-established towns like East Maitland.
“Several sources indicate that the town’s growth was slowed by Close’s disinclination to make land readily available,” the application says.
“If Edward Charles Close had relinquished the land to the government rather than retaining it himself, a very different town may have resulted.”
Morpeth could have become like East Maitland, which conformed to state government town planning principles and did not leave a buffer around the town.
“If Edward Charles Close had relinquished the land to the government rather than retaining it himself, a very different town may have resulted.”Morpeth Heritage Conservation Group
The application also delved into the town’s river port history and noted that Morpeth was initially a private town, with travellers having to pay a one-penny per person levy and a half-penny per wheel levy when they wanted to pass through it.
Group president Simon Brooker said there were many significant buildings and nods to the past across the town.
He said the town reflected an early type of settlement that has mostly disappeared.
“The town is important to the general public and is of state significance,” he said.
“The group has applied for it to be included on the state heritage register so it can be protected in the future.
“Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
The application comes after the group spoke out against a plan to build seniors housing on the former bowling club site.