FUTURE: An artist’s impression of the urban plan.WORK to overhaul Newcastle’s transport and the first stage of its redevelopment is expected to start in December and take up to 3 years to finish, says the boss of the agency tasked with kick-starting the project.
UrbanGrowth NSW, which took a two-thirds stake in the GPT Group’s Hunter Street property holdings, has been put in charge of the overall project, including the installation of light rail as well as its own site.
‘‘We’ll start on the initial transport works and the start on the urban renewal physically in December of this year,’’ chief executive David Pitchford said.
‘‘And we’ll roll that through – it will be somewhere between 2 to 3 years.’’
‘‘That will be the initial bit, the implementation of the light rail and the development, but there’ll be probably up to 10 years of consistent extension of development.’’
It is the first time frame given for the work after the government announced its plans last June to lease the Port of Newcastle and use $340million of the proceeds to install light rail as part of urban renewal plans.
The agency, which absorbed the old Landcom, has not been given new powers to get the job done.
But UrbanGrowth NSW chairman John Brogden said they weren’t needed when ‘‘what we’ve got is the imprimatur of the Premier and the minister’’.
Planning and Infrastructure minister Brad Hazzard said the new approach would ‘‘bang the government agencies’ heads together and get them moving’’.
‘‘One of the problems for Newcastle … has been that government agencies were running their own agendas for many years, with no direction from government,’’ Mr Hazzard said.
The Newcastle Herald revealed this week that UrbanGrowth’s $400-million project with GPT will entail a 19-storey residential building on the site of the old David Jones car park on King Street, a 14-storey residential building on the corner of King and Newcomen streets and a 15-storey residential building in Wolfe Street.
Other features include a 15,000- to 25,000-square-metre retail precinct.
Mr Brogden said the plan was to get the transport work under way so ‘‘when you’re moving in, all the infrastructure’s done, you won’t be moving in to a construction site’’.
He said the various-sized sites that would be made available for development in the city meant Newcastle companies could be involved rather than only large developers.
‘‘I can’t think of any other regional centre, or even any sub-regional centre of Sydney, anywhere else in NSW that needs this development as much as Newcastle does,’’ Mr Brogden said.
‘‘And it will be transformed as much.’’
Mr Pitchford confirmed private funding was being considered as an element of the Wickham transport interchange project.
‘‘Whether it’s a public-private partnership or some other joint venture, what we’re looking at is a whole range of new innovative financial structuring so we can do things that have not been done in Australia before,’’ he said.
Mr Hazzard said UrbanGrowth NSW’s strengthened role in the city would not diminish the Hunter Development Corporation, the role of which has included overseeing the development of land at Honeysuckle.
‘‘Part of the reason that Newcastle’s so much on the map is because of the work that the HDC has done and they’ll continue to do,’’ he said.
The first information session about proposed routes for light rail will be held at Newcastle City Hall from 10.30am today, with others in Maitland and Newcastle next week.