Plans to rejuvenate the High Street trading precinct will aim to capture the energy of the Aroma festival using the city’s heritage as the hook in a modern, functional space, according to the architect.
And he believes there is also a need to tap into the city’s strong connection with – both in terms of settlement and flooding – when considering the design.
A month out from drafting the first plans, landscape architect Adrian McGregor sampled the excitement of the Maitland Aroma Coffee, Chocolate & Fine Food Festival in the Heritage Mall and pondered the
possibilities. “It was absolutely humming,” he said. “But there is certainly the need for a lift in the overall quality and experience of High Street.”
Maitland City Council determined last month that it would re-open the mall to slow-moving westbound traffic as part of plans to breath life into central Maitland, after extensive consultation with residents and stakeholders.
That consultation has included input from the Vibrant River Cities communities reference panel, concerning such aspects as the need for meeting spaces, and will form the brief to the architects.
Mr McGregor, a director of the successful tender Coxall McGregor, said revitalising the mall would have its challenges, but was excited about the opportunities.
“Effectively it means looking at how the mall can compete with the other forms of retail in Maitland and what services it can offer to distinguish it,” Mr McGregor said.
“We want to make a place that is good for locals and tourists. If we can succeed in both, we will generate a lot more activity.
“The appearance of the mall is also very important and I think the project needs to have a good fit with the existing heritage.
“People now have a lifestyle expectation; they like to enjoy modern environments and the convenience that entails, but they want to enjoy the heritage as well.
“The new work in the mall should be a good neighbour to the buildings that already exist.”
While the architect will embrace the heritage value of the shop fronts, the firm will also tap into Maitland’s history.
“The story of water is very important to Maitland, both in terms of its settlement and its cultural history connected to flooding,” Mr McGregor said.
“A lot of cities and beyond are rediscovering waterfronts as places to occupy and enjoy.”