Newcastle looks set to welcome a touch of Rome as part of the development of a new public space.
The ‘Stairway to Heaven’ concept, which was thought of 14 years ago by a group of prominent architects, proposes to link Christ Church Cathedral to the harbour via a grand staircase inspired by the Spanish Steps.
The plan seeks to open-up connections and view lines from Newcastle foreshore and the Hunter Street Mall to Christ Church Cathedral.
It aligns with the strategic objectives of the City of Newcastle and the Revitalising Newcastle program to connect the city to the waterfront.
City of Newcastle plans to demolish the 59-year-old Mall Car Park, which closed this year due to its poor structural condition, to make way for the project.
Chief Executive Jeremy Bath said the proposed demolition of the Mall Car Park presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine the future use of the car park site.
“The option of demolishing the existing Mall Car Park has allowed us to bring back to the table the concept of the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, an idea that was first imagined well over a decade ago,” he said.
“By introducing a grand staircase with wide pedestrian access, active shop fronts, landings and courtyards, it would bring a European Quarter feel to this part of the city, highlighting the character of Newcastle’s historic CBD and re-establish a link to the harbour.
“Given the poor structural condition of Mall Car Park, the significant costs associated to rectify and bring the carpark up to current standards, the City does not intend to repair or reconstruct it.
“Instead we are now exploring the best use for the site, including the potential to integrate the site with the adjoining Iris Capital East End development, which would involve undertaking a range of feasibility studies for the next phase of the development.”
Mr Bath added that discussions with Iris Capital would ensure essential public car parking was factored into the next stage of planning.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said City of Newcastle was committed to creating a more attractive and liveable city through planning opportunities such as this project.
“Opportunities to open up our iconic and beautiful Christchurch Cathedral to the Harbour don’t come every day, and we are constantly looking at ways to get the best future outcomes for our community through these everyday planning decisions,” she said.
“We’re looking forward to working with the community and key stakeholders on how best to utilise this immensely important piece of Newcastle.”
A development application will be lodged shortly, seeking approval to demolish Mall Car Park.