Fears views will be lost in tower plan, video
The Newcastle Herald yesterday revealed three residential towers feature in plans set to be unveiled next month by UrbanGrowth NSW and GPT for the pair’s massive inner city landholdings.
Under the plan, two buildings up to 19 storeys high will be built on the site of the old David Jones building and its car park, while a 15-storey building is earmarked for a site in Newcomen Street which is currently vacant.
The buildings will soar as high as 65metres, almost triple the existing building height limit of 24metres. Other new buildings of seven and eight storeys are also included in the master plan.
While full details of the plan won’t be released until late March, the plan has already sparked strong debate over the city’s future, with many saying that views to and from the city’s iconic Christ Church Cathedral should be protected.
Dean of the cathedral the Very Reverend Stephen Williams said he hoped the views would be defended.
‘‘The cathedral community wants to be part of the renewal of Newcastle and we welcome signs of fresh investment and energy coming into the city,’’ he said.
‘‘We share a hope that view corridors to the cathedral are not unduly compromised, and that developments add, rather than detract, from the liveability of a great city.’’
The Property Council of Australia’s NSW regional director Andrew Fletcher said the development ‘‘is considered to be the most important regional project anywhere in Australia’’.
‘‘It will change the face of the city and has the potential to make us a regional city that is known internationally,’’ he said.
‘‘The key plank of the Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy is to free the shackles on the archaic development controls. We simply have to have higher density development in the city.’’
Hunter Business Chamber chief Kristen Keegan said the chamber was looking forward to seeing the plan’s detail.
‘‘We just want to see the urban renewal happen,’’ she said.
‘‘We want the right sort of development, we want to see cranes in the sky, we want to get on and make it happen.’’
Liberal Newcastle councillor Brad Luke said city planners could no longer ignore the strong demand for inner-city living.
‘‘As always in life, there has to be compromise,’’ he said. ‘‘If a development is not what people want to live in, or shop in, or visit, then people won’t be there to build it. We have to supply what people want – you don’t build rugby fields if everyone wants to play soccer, otherwise you end up with white elephants.’’
The city’s Labor councillors, though, said the city centre was not the place for high-rise.
‘‘If the Herald’s report is correct, then I would say that the majority of planning documents released to date have Newcastle West as the high-rise precinct in Newcastle,’’ Cr Tim Crakanthorp said.
‘‘The last thing we want is ad hoc high-rise throughout our beautiful city and certainly not challenging the cathedral on the eastern skyline.’’
Cr Nuatali Nelmes said she welcomed news that ‘‘something was finally happening on the GPT site, even though it’s taking a lot of public money to make it happen’’.
More than 1500 people responded to the Newcastle Herald’s online web poll yesterday, with 56per cent saying the city’s building height limits should be raised to allow for 20-storey buildings.