14 December 2015

A suspicious fire has destroyed a Stockton service station at the centre of a legal dispute.

Newcastle Council has taken action against the owner of the service station, over concerns people were living there and using it to sell second-hand goods, contrary to its zoning.

It prompted calls for the state government to revoke its Crown Land lease.

A fire on Saturday night destroyed the building and Police Inspector Darren Cox said the matter is being treated as suspicious.

“We’ve locked the location down as a crime scene and we are treating the incident as suspicious,” he said.

“It is under investigation by Newcastle detectives.

“We have to treat everything as suspicious in the initial stages to ensure we don’t miss anything.

“Then as the matter evolves we’ll determine where it goes to from there.”

Forensic investigators spent yesterday scouring the site for clues.

Newcastle Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp said he has been calling for action to be taken at the site since the start of the year.

“If action had been taken sooner then this might not have happened,” he said.

“I have called for the lease to be annulled, the site to be remediated and the community given a say in its future use. ‘

“We need to look forward now at how we can make this site useful and important for the Stockton community again.”

Extracted in full from ABC News.