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Grant to provide “missing link”


Maitland Mayor Loretta Baker believes a new grant for Walka Water Works will provide “the missing link” in determining the future of the site.

The $366,000 grant was provided to Maitland City Council by the State Government’s Crown Reserves Improvement Fund (CRIF).

It will assessment will identify any areas of the site that need repairs or restoration to preserve the its heritage value, integrity, and structural adequacy.

This includes the dam, dam wall, spillway and main pump House, plus the boiler room, western annex, chimney, workshop and basement.

Following the assessment, it will then contribute to the development of a Plan of Management and a Master Plan for Walka Water Works.

In 2017, then mayoral candidate Philip Penfold floated the idea of reopening a former café and museum as part of the push to increase public access.

Cr Baker is unsure what the future of the site may look like.

However, she is certain about its standing as “an iconic location steeped in heritage, [which] has huge significance to our community”.

“Maitland people love Walka, but lots of people don’t know it exists – it’s a well-kept secret,” she says.

“We’re so lucky to have it, it’s a haven for wildlife and the architecture is spectacular.”

The pumphouse, with its striking chimney and brickwork, is part of one of the largest and most intact 19th Century industrial complexes in the Hunter Valley.

The site is used for park run, picnics and family fun, while the former boiler room and adjacent lawn is currently used for wedding receptions, parties, and special events.

It also offers 112 hectares of park, lake and bushland surrounding the historic building.

Cr Baker says the assessment will help to unlock the site’s potential and discover if there is any interest in development.

However, she wants to reassure the community that it will not be overdeveloped and will maintain its heritage.

Access to the site should not be affected throughout the assessment process.

Cr Baker believes the assessment is not intrusive and doubts that any closures will occur.

Council will deliver the condition assessment results in 2020 in accordance with the grant requirements.

Go to maitland.nsw.gov.au for more information.

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