Plans to demolish some of the old structures within the Corrimal cokeworks are on hold after Wollongong City Council placed an Interim Heritage Order on the site.
The council says it acted after finding out last week that a private certifier's approval to knock down some structures had been acquired by owner the Illawarra Coke Company and developer Legacy Property.
"Council received notification on 15 May 2019 that the developer had obtained approval through a private certifier to demolish a number of structures found on site," a council spokesman told the Mercury.
"Council raised concern with the developer that demolition of any structures at this point in time would be inconsistent with council's April 2018 resolution to advance the rezoning proposal subject to a local heritage listing of part of the site.
"The Interim Heritage Order will prevent demolition of any structures until the heritage significance of the site can be properly considered by council."
Illawarra Coke Company director Kate Strahorn confirmed the intention to demolish some of the buildings, saying it was for safety reasons, and said this had been well communicated.
"In response to our safety and security concerns, our intention was to demolish a series of derelict buildings and structures that were not deemed to be of high heritage significance," Ms Strahorn said.
"We had planned the demolition works and had communicated the plans with the community at the community information sessions held in late March and in our regular updates with Wollongong City Council.
"The planned demolition works were pending further discussions and communication with council."
ICC and Legacy want to build a 700-home development on the site, which closed in 2014 after 100 years operating.
The council spokesman said heritage listings and studies were meant to happen before demolition.
"[It] included the progression of a draft Heritage Listing for certain buildings and structures," the spokesman said. "The resolution also required the preparation of additional heritage (and other) studies, followed by a public exhibition process."
Ms Strahorn said the developers had "always been committed to a collaborative planning process with Wollongong City Council".
"While we believe that applying an Interim Heritage Order was unnecessary, we are happy to defer any demolition works to ensure council can complete its assessment of the planning proposal," she said.
The six-month order has the effect of making the council the consent authority for any demolition work.