UrbanGrowth NSW has lodged a planning proposal for the controversial redevelopment of Newcastle’s heavy rail corridor, which it says will “connect the city to the waterfront and drive jobs, tourism and economic growth”.

“This is an important milestone in Newcastle’s transformation and I congratulate our Newcastle team for its ongoing commitment to the local community,” UrbanGrowth chief executive David Pitchford said. “We have placed a great deal of emphasis on ensuring that people feel a part of this exciting journey.”

The removal of the heavy rail corridor into the Newcastle CBD, to be replaced with light rail, has been heavily criticised, with EcoTransit Sydney’s Gavin Gatenby calling it a “tragedy” to lose the direct CBD-to-CBD inter-city connection in one of our most-read pieces of last year, and questioning the potential for development that would be welcomed by the community.

UrbanGrowth says it has responded to concerns regarding the development by committing to “new open space and improved public domain with more pedestrian and vehicle connections, increased links between the city and the waterfront, the revitalisation of Hunter Street and a commitment to respecting Newcastle’s heritage and character”.

“Extensive community engagement in 2014 and 2015 was clear in its message that Newcastle needs to evolve towards a future that is both unique in character and true to its origins. The planning proposal reflects this engagement, which we delivered in partnership with Newcastle City Council,” Mr Pitchford said.

“The people of Newcastle have told us they are proud of their city and want to see it revitalised into a thriving place that attracts people to live, work, play and study.”

The proposal sees around 4.25 hectares of land rezoned for mixed-use development, recreation and tourism. Maximum building heights will be between 14-30 metres, or 3-9 storeys, with the lower heights at the East End.

“We believe the proposal responds to the community’s feedback and is a balanced outcome, and over the coming months the community will again be able to provide feedback on the proposal when it is placed on public exhibition,” Mr Pitchford said.

Assessment of the planning proposal by Newcastle City Council and the Department of Planning is expected to take about 12 months.

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  1. The so-called “Assessment of the planning proposal by Newcastle City Council..” will probably be rubber-stamped by the Administrator appointed by the Baird Government once the council amalgamation takes place and the Newcastle Council sacked.
    This State government’s scheming is almost beyond belief. But sadly true.

  2. Can someone explain to me how they are going to put in a light rail when they’re pulling up all the lines and grassing over it? They have put footpaths in, am I missing something?

    Newcastle centre is a boring, boring place, so much opportunity has been lost. Tarred car parks along the foreshore. It looks like something out of the 70’s of bad city planning. Dilapidated buildings that are regal that should be being used for other purposes. The GPO building should have been the Crowne Plaza not where that thing is placed along the foreshore that looks like a gaol in the middle of the road. The old road along at Wickham could be turned into a place where a community garden should be set up for the residents in the apartments. There could be a great skate park for kids, a kids play area. Instead it’s tar with rubbish that flies around and ends up on the fence and looking like an LS Lowery painting.

    It’s really sad that no forethought has been given to the community only to greedy developers like the car park of tar on the foreshore that supposedly belongs to everyone but has had EOI on it so another square lego building will be added there, nothing exciting or architectural just simple ugliness, no style – the old Great Northern that was once the hub is left to crumble – what was needed in Newcastle was a green ban like in the Rocks – lovely old buildings are left to crumble. The old David Jones should have been turned into specialty shops or opened for markets like in Melbourne or to encourage the cruise ships in Duty Free shopping like the port of Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas. If there was a decent public service more people would be encouraged to go into the centre instead there is nothing to take you there – the parking is overpriced and limited. It’s really really sad. Businesses from Sydney could have been encouraged but why when there’s nothing exciting. The view is horrendous across the harbour… the coal loaders and the chemical plant. It reminds me of Springfield on the Simpsons….

  3. I no longer go into Newcastle, which saddens me greatly. I am 74yrs of age and ever though I am a fit lady I find the trip from Hamilton to Newcastle easy, the trip back is really bad ,standing out in the rain, wind, heat over the road from the old railway station, when we could be waiting in a train or on the protected platforms. I feel as if a much loved passtime has been taken away from me. Developers might be the only winners here. I know I am one of the many disadvantaged.

  4. Property speculators have worked for this objective for more than 30 years. Government elections are useless as soon as any party is elected the property speculators reverse their loyalties to the new government. Barry O’Farrell went from standing with Save Our Rail with his Shadow Cabinet in 2010 to the point where his Planning Minister Brad Hazzard released a media comment: “we must cut the rail because it will release 11 ha of building lands” by February 2012.

    If there was any genuine “consultation” by the government or their sycophants and there was any genuine support for these proposals then the government would be crowing from the rooftops.


  5. I took a trip to Newcastle CBD yesterday. I waited 20 mins at bus stop for Shuttle Bus to Hamilton, had a hectic bus ride, and waited over 20 mins more for a Maitland train for a trip which did take under half an hour from Newcastle to Victoria Street Station.

    A lovely lunch by the harbour now a rear event. Is this good for Newcastle?

    A city without good transport is pathetic.

  6. Urban Growth keep saying that the proposal responds to community feedback. It responds to developer feedback. The larger part of the community want NO development on the corridor and NO light rail on the streets.

  7. This proposal DOES NOT respond to community feedback. Most of the community do not want development on the corridor and do not want the light rail clogging up the streets, when the corridor is just a few metres away.

  8. Developers have benefitted from Baird’s plans to dismantle our precious rail service from the Hunter to the second city of NSW, Newcastle – effectively now Sydney is cut off from the Hunter, Hunter regional people are cut off from our city – no one wins – except developers!

  9. The so called “community consultation” was a farce. Any submission that favoured putting rail on the rail corridor was eliminated. Also there was a dodgy double counting of choices for the use of the corridor. The community of Newcastle has had its rail connection cut off and the corridor re-zoned to allow development on it. The only people to benefit will be the developers who have been behind the madness of taking out a rail line to a major city to “revitalise” it. The reason the corridor land is important is that unlike most of Newcastle it is not undermined, therefore stable for building high rise.

  10. Like, you know, it was always connected.

    Then, when too much is barely enough, along comes Your-Money-Is-Mine (Oh, and we’ll take your land, too) to take over the rail land by the Newcastle harbour.

    Courtesy of NSW government’s war on public land, the government stepped in and – lo and behold our public land is now – . . . privately owned.

    And citizens can no longer catch a train to the centre of the city.

    Pitchforks for Pitchford would provide a ‘balanced outcome’.

    Just my thoughts, M