A Greens Vision for Newcastle
Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy 2012
Refocussed on the community
The State Government has delivered a plan for Newcastle that cuts residents out of decision-making, delivers windfall profits for developers by allowing bigger, fatter buildings, ignores the infrastructure needs of our city and reduces the efficiency of the public transport network.
Our city needs to be revitalised by focussing planning squarely on community needs. Newcastle city needs a strategy that is people-centred, not developer-driven.
1) It’s about people
Newcastle Greens want to see more people living and working in the city centre, and more people visiting our city. This can only occur if public transport is improved, if the amenities in the CBD are upgraded and if decisions about development of our city are made in Newcastle not Sydney.
Local government is the sphere of government closest to the people it serves, so Newcastle City Council is well placed to actively engage with its residents to ensure effective community participation and consultation in the planning and development process.
The State Government’s plan for Newcastle over-rides Newcastle’s Local Environment Plan and benefits developers at the expense of the community.
2) Future-proof design
The State Government’s plan for Newcastle fails to acknowledge that we are living in a changing climate where energy will be more expensive and flooding events will become more frequent and more severe.
Our city centre should be a showcase for sustainable building designs that use less energy, with 5-star and 6-star buildings the norm. An urban renewal strategy should be about getting best practice outcomes that future-proofs the city’s assets.
3) Get the foundations right
Mine subsidence has been identified as a key issue affecting the revitalisation of the Newcastle CBD.
The State Government’s plan for Newcastle fails to deal with the old mining workings under much of the city centre. Funding needs to be provided to undertake a targeted grouting program that provides a mechanism for cost sharing across development sites.
4) Infrastructure upfront
The provision of infrastructure should occur in front of demand, acting as a stimulus for development.
Public transport is a key component of a sustainable, fair and liveable city. Improvements to the public transport system are long overdue and the State Government’s plan for Newcastle fails to make any improvements. Some obvious improvements are:
- upgrading all bus stops and train stations to ensure they meet national disability standards,
- installing new signalling to address delays at railway level crossings such as Stewart Avenue,
- replacing previous level crossings between Wickham and Newcastle stations, and
- rail crossings in conjunction with built development adjacent to the existing rail line.
Similarly, cycleways, park-and-ride facilities, public domain improvements, health and education facilities as well as the mine-workings grouting program should be funded upfront, with part of the cost recouped from levies on future developments (eg Section 94/94A).
5) Build on our strengths
Revitalising our city centre should build on its strengths. Newcastle is a diverse multicultural city with a lively artistic and cultural life set against a backdrop of classic heritage buildings and natural features.
Development should respect, restore and reuse our heritage buildings, deliver human-scale public spaces and provide for housing affordability and social mix in the city.
A University of Newcastle city campus located right in the city centre makes good educational, social and economic sense, and would become a key driver for Newcastle’s revitalisation. Obviously this plan only makes sense with access to a railway in the city centre.
6) Fund the change
One of the most disturbing features of the proposed Urban Renewal Strategy is that it is unfunded, placing an intolerable burden of cost on the people of Newcastle.
While the Port of Newcastle is responsible for the passage of billions of dollars worth of wealth-generating products and exports, the City of Newcastle languishes.
Last year almost 130 million tonnes of product was shipped through our port, mostly on behalf of multinational companies.
Newcastle deserves a share in the bounty that passes through our city’s port.
The State Government should establish a community trust funded by a levy on all goods passing through the port. This port levy would help to fund the infrastructure needed to revitalise our City.
A $1 per tonne levy on the goods that passed through our port last year would have yielded $130 million.
See Tell the State Government What You Think for a submission guide