General Manager David Evans and Mayor Loretta Baker announced yesterday that council had lodged a development application for the project which will be determined by the Hunter and Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panel.

One of the oldest commercial buildings to be constructed in High Street, the Town Hall Cafe (believed to be 170 years old), and the city’s town hall are both items of heritage significance and will be integrated into the project.

Heritage consultants and architects worked with the council to develop the concept plans and development application documentation.

The new administration building, designed to respect the old cafe’s heritage and the heritage and scale of the town hall, will be constructed on the western side of the town hall and run through to Devonshire Street in the east.

The new administration building is estimated to cost $28 million, with associated ground works, upgrades to the town hall and public domain improvements bringing the total project cost to an estimated $43 million, to be funded via loan borrowings.

Maitland is one of the fastest growing cities in the state and as such, the council has outgrown its High Street administration centre.

Mayor Loretta Baker said the city continued to grow which meant so did the number of council employees.

“This administration centre is an investment in Maitland as well as staff and I am really excited to see the project come to fruition,” she said.

“The centre will link to the town hall across the ground and first floors, providing better accessibility to the council chamber and connectivity to upgraded facilities in the town hall for the community,” Cr Baker said.

Staff are currently spread across a range of sites in Maitland which are now reaching, or at, capacity.

Council has been working on the development for several years.

The existing administration building, which council moved into in 1981, was the former Maitland Ambulance Station site – also occupied by a fruit business.

It will not be retained as council offices and a strategy for the building will take into consideration a range of potential re-use options.

Mr Evans, who has worked at the council for 46 years, said staff numbers have doubled since the 1981 move to 500, making council one of the city’s biggest employers.

On completion, the new administration building will accommodate about 220 staff.

“And that can increase over time to around 350 office-based staff,” Mr Evans said.

“What we are providing we expect will accommodate growth in the council office space workforce for the next 20 to 30 years.

“The move will allow us to bring staff we currently have in locations across the city, back into this building and that will certainly help in terms of an interaction between departments and service delivery,” Mr Evans said.

“The work we are doing in relation to the town hall is also equally as important in that we have been looking at trying to improve the experience of the hall for its users for a long time,” Mr Evans said.

“We took a big step with the $2 million upgrades of the stage and auditorium but what is still needed is new amenities, change rooms for performers, new green rooms for performers and a new contemporary commercial kitchen.”

He said this coupled with a loading dock allowing access to the stage, new plant and storage facilities will cost about $9.6 million of the total budget.

A total of $5.4 million will also be spent on parking and site works leaving $28 million for the 5500 square metres of administration building floor space.

“At ground level, some of the new floor space will become foyer space that can be used in association with the town hall for events,” Mr Evans said.

If approved construction should start mid next year with a late 2021 completion date.

Source: www.maitlandmercury.com.au/story/6096961/43-million-new-civic-precinct-for-council/