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A snapshot of Newcastle’s urban development to 2036


Dairy Farmers and The Store redevelopments in Newcastle West sit within his “yes list” and, now, City of Newcastle Urban Design Review Panel chair Dr Philip Pollard has set his sights higher. 

Under his guidance, the independent panel is in the process of evaluating more major commercial, industrial residential and community and civic developments. 

Dr Pollard and his team considered 71 items worth more than $600 million during 2022, assessing both the design quality and possible improvements of proposals. 

He also acted as council’s jury representative for two design competitions in 2022, including The East End Stage 3 and 4 redevelopment and $100 million redevelopment of the former Spotlight site in Newcastle West.  

“We are currently considering some exciting development applications and working together to strike a balance between sustainability and quality design outcomes,” Dr Pollard said. 

“We are also looking for more ways to make connections to Country in the design of public domain spaces,” he said. 

“Good design is not merely creating good looking public spaces and buildings. It is anchored in an understanding of city making, and in creating enduring, functional and uplifting environments, for work, recreation and living.” 

The panel is expected to be kept busy in coming years, with Newcastle set to undertake a range of upgrades as part of the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan 2036. 

Infrastructure alone will need to prepare for an expected 20% population growth. 

Under the plan the former steel city is expected to expand its workforce in health, education, defence, tourism and the creative sectors. 

It will also enable diversity of uses in larger retail centres including housing, offices and recreation, and plan for jobs closer to homes by boosting city centres in regional areas. 

Housing will also need a boost, together with major transport connections.  

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes says she is confident the panel will help bring Newcastle through its latest growing stage.  

“City of Newcastle’s Urban Design Review Panel is reputedly the oldest continuously serving urban design and architectural advisory body in the state of New South Wales,” she said. 

“Newcastle is coming of age by transforming into a modern metropolitan city, with significant redevelopment occurring right across the Local Government Area.” 

Urban development

Award-winning SJB architect and Newcastle resident Adam Haddow agrees Newcastle is ripe for development.

“It’s like the perfect mix of Melbourne and Sydney. It has the restaurants and bars of Melbourne and it has the lifestyle and beaches of Sydney.”

Mr Haddow’s firm was one of three to win the Premier’s Prize at the 2022 NSW Architecture Awards for its design of Newcastle East End Stage 1.

Judges said Haddow and his team had delivered on “connecting communities with their local environment”.

The challenge moving forward, he says, is keeping enough old buildings in the CBD to acknowledge and celebrate the past and make sure it’s there for future generations.

High-speed rail

The Australian Government’s vision for faster interstate travel took an important step forward on Friday 25 August, with the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) board converging on Newcastle for its first meeting in the area.

The get-together followed on from the group’s detailed briefing with Transport NSW officials regarding the existing corridor between Sydney and Newcastle.

The HSRA began operations in June 2023 planning to lead, plan, develop, coordinate, oversee and monitor the construction of a high-speed rail network in Australia.

Broadmeadow Precinct

After a review conducted by The Cabinet Office the Broadmeadow Precinct project is once again ‘on the table’, with plans to transform the inner suburb into a sports and entertainment hub.

On 21 August, Property Council’s Hunter regional director Anita Hugo said plans could now continue at all levels of government.

“Lifting the pause will ensure that important planning work can continue and it’s pleasing to see such a rapid response to this after having raised it with government recently,” she added.

Newcastle - Light rail

Newcastle Light Rail

Talk of light rail connecting the CBD to the Broadmeadow sports and entertainment precinct is abuzz within governing circles.

Earlier this year, Cr Nelmes admitted a tram service to take in several locales, including McDonald Jones Stadium, would help locals and visitors alike.

The NSW Government is requesting a preferred transport corridor for Newcastle, including light rail, be accelerated to provide certainty in planning for all stakeholders.

Transport for NSW expects its findings to be completed in coming months and will subsequently publish a report outlining the option.

Stakeholders including council, the DPE and Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation continue to be engaged in the investigations with Transport for NSW.

Newcastle Airport Photo: Destination NSW

Newcastle Airport

Further afield the Newcastle Airport expansion is now well underway, with the former steel city preparing for international travel.

Direct flights to Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific from Newcastle are being touted, depending on commitments from larger airlines.

The new passenger terminal is set for completion at the end of 2024.

The Williamtown address will also welcome defence industries operating out of Astra Aero Lab, adjacent to the airport.

Airport bosses believe the benefits of the upgrades will mean $13 billion to the local economy over the next twenty years.

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