Triple tower plan for Newcastle, poll
THREE high-rise towers in Newcastle’s CBD form the centrepiece of massive development plans about to be unveiled by UrbanGrowth NSW and GPT.
The planned buildings are almost three times higher than current height restrictions allow. They are almost certain to divide opinion over view corridors to and from the city’s iconic hilltop cathedral, but they also represent an unrivalled investment in the city’s future.
UrbanGrowth was still tight-lipped about its plans on yesterday, saying a development application for the site it part owns with GPT will be lodged formally next month.
But several Newcastle Herald sources have confirmed that the $400million plan includes two buildings, up to 19 storeys each, are proposed for the site of the old David Jones building and its adjoining car park site.
A third high-rise of up to 15 storeys is proposed for the eastern end of the UrbanGrowth-GPT holdings, next to existing apartments on Newcomen Street.
A mix of seven- and eight-storey buildings are also proposed for across the site. While the high-rise buildings will predominantly house residential apartments, the bulk of the remainder will likely accommodate retail and commercial space.
The current allowable height limit for development on the site is just 24metres, or about seven storeys, but the proposed buildings soar as high as 65metres, meaning they will appear as high as the top of Christ Church Cathedral when viewed from across the harbour.
A spokesperson for UrbanGrowth confirmed that it and GPT were seeking changes to the council’s building height guidelines.
‘‘We are exploring changes in height to what was originally prepared and previously exhibited,’’ the spokesperson said. ‘‘Once the plans have been lodged, the community will be able to view them and provide feedback.’’
There is no doubt the plan represents a massive injection of money, people and activity to the city’s ailing heart, but the high-rise elements were already dividing those surveyed by the Herald yesterday.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy confirmed proponents had been discussing the plans with council as late as Tuesday, in particular the changes they would be seeking to height restrictions.
The discussions with him and councillors were confidential, he said, but he echoed comments that he made earlier about building heights in the city.
‘‘I can’t reveal any details at the moment, but what I’ve seen is fantastic,’’ he said.
‘‘This plan poses one question to us: are we a city, or are we a cow paddock?
‘‘I’m telling you, we’re not a cow paddock. We need to get density into the city, we need to get safety into the city, we need to get investment into the city.
‘‘I can tell you that this plan offers everything this city needs.
‘‘I have no doubt that the negative forces who have held this city back for years will be out in force, but it has to end.’’
Councillors approached by the Herald were also guarded, although Greens councillor Michael Osborne responded to UrbanGrowth’s confirmation of the bid to raise height limits, saying he would have ‘‘major concerns if view corridors to the cathedral were compromised’’.
‘‘It’s an important part of our cityscape,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s something that defines our city and sets it apart from other cities around the country.
‘‘It would be crazy to compromise that.’’
The massive CBD site is bordered by Newcomen, King, Perkins and Hunter streets. UrbanGrowth owns two thirds of the partnership, and GPT the other third.
The spokesperson for UrbanGrowth said a development application would likely be lodged with the council in late March or early April.