Work on the $9 million upgrade of Wollongong Public School has been halted.
The Department of Education stopped work after nearby residents expressed concerns with the work being carried out to replace the heritage-listed roof of the 133-year-old building.
A spokesperson told the Mercury the Department stopped work on the roof pending the completion of a Heritage Impact Statement by an independent consultant.
"The work is on hold until the Statement is completed and Wollongong Council has had an opportunity to comment."
A member of the Wollongong Heritage Conservation Group, who wished to remain anonymous, said the group had had many complaints about the "new space age roof" being installed at Wollongong Public School.
"The council have been made aware of this and have halted works but it looks as if the Department of Education are pushing a strong arm into saving money and going with a cheap modern option on one of our beloved heritage buildings," he said.
"It only needs a quick drive past this building to reveal exactly how bad this new product looks compared to the original slate that matches the heritage church just across the road.
"It feels like Wollongong has been pushed to one side as there are proper heritage restorations currently underway across NSW."
A Wollongong City Council spokesperson said the council supported the protection and maintenance of heritage items across the city.
"Recently, a community member flagged with Wollongong City Council that work had started on a heritage-listed section of Wollongong Public School.
"Under heritage obligations within the State Environmental Planning Policy (Education Establishments), Council is required to be notified of works to local heritage sites and provided an opportunity to review the plans and a heritage assessment supporting the proposal. This is to ensure the works consider the significance of the heritage item.
"At the request of Council, the Education Department ceased work while these outstanding procedural issues, including an opportunity for Council to review the plans and the heritage assessment, are addressed.
"We understand that the Department is currently seeking heritage advice to inform their decision about how to proceed with the roofing project."
The upgrade of the school will expand the capacity of the school, the plans say, catering for a projected population growth in inner-city Wollongong.
Once complete, the school's population will be able to grow by nearly 40 per cent, taking in an extra 161 students and 23 new staff.
The proposed development include the demolition of the school's covered outdoor learning area, covered walkways and toilet block.
A new outdoor area will be built, along with a new two-storey learning building with 11 "studio spaces" inside.
According to the plans, the makeover will not impinge on the 133-year-old school's significant heritage value as it will be sympathetic in design and will not affect the Victoriam-period bell tower and main school building.
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