The Herald has described the recent approval for a new Newcastle CBD courthouse as a “green light”. There is no support for this flawed proposal, however, from Newcastle Greens” announced Ward 3 candidate , Keith Parsons.
Newcastle Greens call on the O’Farrell government to axe this project and go back to the drawing board. We strongly support upgrading the CBD court complex but it should occur in the existing historic legal precinct where there are plenty of opportunities. This would be a much cheaper and superior alternative, said Mr Parsons.
“The Greens urge to the government to consider the alternative of demolishing the Church St 1951 court registry for a new state-of-the-art-building, and developing extra facilities in the adjacent police station while retaining a police shopfront presence. And the Bolton Street Legacy House site is also available for redevelopment.” said Mr Parsons.
“And vacating the historic 1891 state heritage-significant courthouse because of a rat infestation and poor air conditioning is ridiculous. Just fix the problems.” said Mr Parsons.
“The flawed Civic project was recommended for rejection by a planning consultant, because of ‘unsatisfactory traffic impacts’. This problem that will get worse when nearby approved nearby developments are built at Honeysuckle and the art gallery is extended. The likely shortfall could be as much as 400 car spaces. If the rail line is cut, as predicted by Newcastle MP, Tim Owen, there would be even more workers and court visitors travelling by car to the CBD in lieu of trains.
Mr Parsons added “All this was blithely dismissed by the 3 panel members that turned up (out of 5 members): two government appointees and Liberal councillor Brad Luke. The panel alleged to have weighed up “parking concerns against public interest”. Where’s the public interest in traffic chaos?”, asked Mr. Parsons.
Mr Parsons added “But there’s much more. The interior design has been criticised as inferior by local representatives of the legal profession.”
“And Council’s asset managers claim there will be a positive economic outcome for the Civic area but they have completely ignored the massive negative impact in the Mall and further eastward, including the historic legal precinct. Where’s the public interest in this?”
“Have planners had any input or do Council’s real estate developers now rule the roost?
Mr Parsons stated that Council’s argument about employment creation is spurious, apart from short-term construction jobs that could also occur if new facilities were constructed in the existing precinct.
“ No new jobs would be created by simply transferring court workers from Bolton Street to Civic. And there’s the job losses in business in the eastern precinct”
Mr Parsons also stated “The Greens are aware that plans have been on the drawing board for about two decades that would cost much less than the obviously poorly thought through $94 million Civic proposal. Liberal governments claim to look for economically efficient outcomes. Why then spend tens of millions of extra dollars simply to build at Civic?”
Mr Parsons called on Tim Owen to swallow his pride and endorse a cheaper, equally modern and functional alternative that won’t put another knife in the heart of the eastern CBD.
“He should take a trip to Sydney CBD and inspect the Supreme Court complex there . There are 3 functioning nineteenth century court buildings dating from the 1820s to 1890s and augmented by a modern, recently refurbished court building in Macquarie Street.”
“ It’s not the Governments’ job to get Council off the hook for a vacant site it can’t sell, “ said Mr Parsons. ”And Mr Owen owes us all an explanation for what he intends for the existing court buildings in Church Street. Will it be more speculative apartments, built by Liberal-supporting property developers? Will there be a crude ,philistine facadism new future for one on Newcastle’s heritage icons, the 1890 Court house? Is that how the Government respects our outstanding local heritage?”