The State Opposition today slammed plans by the NSW Government to sell off the historic Lands Office at Maitland.

The Government had ignored the request from several history-focused community groups including the Maitland Regional Museum to turn the former Lands office into a museum.

New Crown Lands laws come into effect on July 1 which will make it easier for the Government to transfer crown land to its in-house real estate agent – Property NSW.

A new guide on community consultation specifically excluded such transactions from consultation.

It’s understood the old Lands Office is now in the hands of Property NSW, and is headed for disposal.

Maitland has lost a dozen Crown Lands jobs since 2011, which led to the delays and confusion over the mismanagement of sites like the former Hunter Valley Community School, as evidenced in correspondence between Departmental officers revealed in a recent GIPA sought by Labor.

The Liberals and Nationals’ have sold off billions of dollars of public assets during their eight years in Government. Their latest move in selling off crown land sites, particularly the iconic old Lands Office shows their wrong priorities in failing to map future community need within existing resources. Maitland is the fastest growing community outside of Sydney and there has been a sustained push by local heritage, cultural and conservation groups to establish a regional museum in the area. The old Lands Office would be ideal for such a purpose.

Many in the community have been devastated at the prospect of losing the historic buildings in East Maitland in addition to a number of other community sites. Previously the Government has sold off the Telarah Fire Station, the Old South Street Community School at Telarah, and there have been plans to sell off the Police Residence at Lochinvar.

There was a perfect solution in saving the site and transforming it into a museum.

Quotes attributable to Mick Veitch MLC, Shadow Minister for Lands

“This is a cruel blow for the people of Maitland.

“Not only have they lost local Crown Land jobs, but now the Government wants to flog this historic building to the highest bidder.

“This sums up the dire situation of Crown lands in NSW, where there is growing fear that there will be a fresh wave of crown land sales right across regional NSW.

Quotes attributable to Ms Jenny Aitchison MP, Member for Maitland

“There is a unique opportunity for community groups like the Maitland Regional Museum to utilise this vacant space. There is potential for this historic building to be retained as a vital piece of social infrastructure and history in the Maitland community.

“This is just another example of the NSW Government’s wrong priorities, selling off assets to the detriment of the community.

“While Maitland continues to grow at unprecedented rates, the NSW Government continues to cash up and sell out. There is very little crown land and public facilities still accessible to the community.

“This is just one of a number of vacant properties / parcels of land left sitting unused and neglected that could be utilised to greatly enhance our community.

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