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FRESH hope has been given that dormant railway land in central Albury may be offloaded by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
The area bound by Young Street and the Hume Highway and Dean and Wilson streets has long been largely vacant besides old railway housing used by squatters.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack said a meeting between the council and corporation managers on Thursday had raised the prospect of movement on the land’s status.
“We’re having very, very positive discussions, which is better than we’ve had previously,” Cr Mack said.
“They’re interested in coming to the table on a lot of issues.”
Cr Mack would like the federal government land to be gifted to the council for redevelopment.
“It’s a long way off, but the conversation has been positive,” he said.
The ARTC had realised the failures of the North East train line had been a “public relations disaster” and it provided a link to it engaging on the land, Cr Mack said.
He believed bureaucracy had stalled previous action.
“They own 8500 kilometres of land on behalf of the federal government and assets on the line aren’t their priority,” Cr Mack said.
Movement on the railway land comes five years after the flour mill on the corner of Young and Wilson street was demolished.
The publication of Google street view before and after photographs of the mill site on The Border Mail website prompted the Albury Heritage Trust to slam the council.
Its president David Lonergan called the demolition one of the city’s “worst acts of heritage vandalism”.
“The excuse they were using to knock it down wasn’t really a legitimate excuse,” Mr Lonergan said.
Empty space: A Google street view image of the land once occupied by the flour mill. Railway-owned property lies in the background.
“The fact they were saying they were only going to be able to sell the block if it was clear was false.
“The bigger issue was two-thirds of it still belonged to the railway.
“Their excuse didn’t hold water.”
Mr Lonergan said at the “very least” the facade of the old mill house should have been kept and incorporated into apartments or offices.
Councillor Henk van de Ven, who runs an Enzed franchise near the mill site, defended the razing.
“To be honest it really had to come down, it wasn’t going to be used as a flour mill,” Cr van de Ven said.
“It had to demolished for any development to take place.
“It is disappointing that it hasn’t been sold.
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