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.