The old Carrington Hotel on High could be detonated under plans to give councils greater power.
But fears have been raised that the former Bob’s Bird Barn store could be only the first of such historically significant, if not heritage listed, buildings to fall under the plans.
Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery tabled a private member’s bill on Thursday that would give councils the power to demolish vacant, dangerous buildings.
“We know the situation is exacerbated by landlords who are unwilling to demolish these buildings quickly because they are waiting for rezoning or a similar development opportunity,” she said.
“I’ve found the absentee landlords don’t show the same care in providing a secure and safe building.”
Maitland City Council is in the midst of spending $50,000 to make the old Carrington Hotel safe, with the bill to be sent to Sydney owner Andre Khalil.
“If Mr Khalil doesn’t pay the matter will be taken back to court and he could be forced to sell,” mayor of Maitland, Cr Peter Blackmore said.
“These proposed powers would have to be used carefully but they could save the ratepayers considerable money.”
Mr Khalil defended his absence yesterday and said the building’s poor condition was not his fault.
“If the Wallsend MP was serious she would be doing something about the vandalism that plagues Maitland and Newcastle,” he said.
“I am in the process of selling my Sydney home so I can move into the High Street building and restore it.
“If the government passes this bill they will be destroying my home.”
With these powers council could give landlords a mere 10 days notice of demolition.
Maitland heritage expert Alan Todd slammed negligent owners but refused to endorse giving councils such power.
“If people let these buildings go too far then no one sees the value in keeping them,” he said.
“If an act of parliament makes it easier to demolish historic buildings, it’s a bad step.”
“With these powers the Carington Hotel would be a classic candidate for demolition to open up the mall to the river.”