The decision by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to allow expanded car parking in the Honeysuckle Central development casts doubt on the seriousness of the NSW government in achieving their own public transport targets for Newcastle, according to the Greens Lord Mayoral and Ward 4 candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton.
The NSW Coalition Government’s NSW 2021 Plan ( Goal 8 ) commits the state government to “Increase the share of commuter trips made by public transport to and from Newcastle CBD during peak hours to 20% by 2016”. (This is from a current base of about 14%).
But the PAC report that permitted Buildev to add another 63 car parks to its Honeysuckle development states that this “will have minimal impact on the mode of travel to work”, and does not refer at all to the state plan targets, or demonstrate that they had any bearing on its decision.
“Clearly these kinds of planning decisions take us in completely the opposite direction envisaged in the NSW 2021 Plan, and raise serious questions about the credibility of the state government’s own claims,” Mr Sutton said.
“This PAC decision reinforces the need for a firm decision by the state government to retain the Newcastle rail line, so that doubts about its future aren’t used to try to justify any more developments focussed around increasing private motor vehicle use.
“Once a firm and sensible decision is made to keep the rail line, we can get on with landscaping it and providing safe pedestrian crossings, improving the parts of our public transport system that really do need attention, and revitalising the city around this key piece of public transport infrastructure and the potential it offers for rail-centred development.
“This PAC decision signals exactly what will happen if services on the Newcastle rail line go,” Mr Sutton said. “Every developer will be applying to maximise private car parking, and our CBD will become even more choked with peak hour traffic, with all its associated pollution and other health and amenity impacts.
“The PAC decision is also an excellent illustration of how decisions about land use are linked with transport services, and how important it is to get the transport system right.
” It’s well over time for the Coalition government to tell us how it is intending to achieve its own public transport targets for the Newcastle CBD, and to establish a framework that prevents more of these kinds of ad hoc planning decisions, which may suit developers, but are not in the best interests of our city,” Mr Sutton said.
For further information or comment, contact John Sutton (Greens Lord Mayoral and Ward 4 candidate for Newcastle) on: 0411 154 004.