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Reflections abandons plan to deliver accommodation hub at Walka


A controversial proposal to deliver an accommodation hub at Maitland’s Walka Water Works is unlikely to go ahead in the foreseeable future.

It’s understood Reflections Holiday Parks has withdrawn from its partnership with Maitland City Council while the latter prioritises the remediation of asbestos contamination at the iconic site.

The outcome will please a large proportion of residents, including the Save Walka Reserve Community Alliance Inc, who launched a protest and petition against the venture – which featured 10 eco-cabins, 12 glamping tents, 40-powered caravan spots, camp kitchen and barbecue area – from day one.

In 2022, council, Reflections Holiday Parks and Crown Lands joined forces to pursue funding opportunities for the development of Walka Water Works into an iconic visitor attraction as outlined in Maitland’s Destination Management Plan.

And, the alliance was successful in securing $10 million from the Regional Tourism Activation Fund.

However, due to the extensive asbestos remediation work required at the locale, council made the ruling in January to request a reallocation of those funds to focus on remediation over development moving forward.

Reflections Holiday Parks CEO Nick Baker said the decision to withdraw from the partnership reflected the current status of progress and Maitland City’s priorities.

“We understand the focus for council for the next few years will be on remediation of the site before they are able to move towards establishing their vision for this significant visitor attraction,” he explained.

“As a profit-for-purpose organisation, with a commitment to quadruple bottom line outcomes, Reflections Holidays would have provided a great outcome for nature-based holiday accommodation at Walka Water Works.

“It would’ve attracted new visitors to spend their money at local businesses, too.

“Reflections Holidays wishes Maitland City Council every success with obtaining grants for the remediation of such a valuable location.”

Maitland City Council general manager Jeff Smith said discussions were continuing with the NSW Government, who owns the site, to identify funding opportunities for the remediation works.

“Reflections Holidays has contributed significantly to the project to date… and I very much appreciate their efforts and understand their decision,” he stated.

“Maitland City Council’s vision for overnight accommodation options at Walka Water Works has not been abandoned.

“We know the community’s priority remains the reopening of currently closed spaces on the site.

“So, we look forward to a future conversation about the enhanced uses of the site once remediation is underway.”

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