Trades Hall backs Newcastle rail corridor rezoning to secure uni move

Trades Hall backs building on old rail corridor MIXED USE: A state government concept design, released in April, for an affordable housing development beside the museum on part of the former heavy rail corridor in Merewether St.
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TweetFacebookHerald earlier on Wednesday that it had “secured rights and options” over two hectares of land at Honeysuckle.It is understood some of that land is on the corridor, which would need to be rezoned to allow the university to realise its full plans for the site.

“UON is currently developing a high-level master plan for the sites which considers options including next-generationteaching and learning facilities, campus support services and student accommodation,” it said in a statement.

“UON continues to undertake planning work and discussions with the Hunter Development Corporation and NSW Government regarding the future of the Honeysuckle precinct.

“UON is committed to working with the NSW Government and other partners to drive the city’s transition to a knowledge economy that acts as a magnet for jobs, industry and talent.”

Mr Wallace, who spoke in favour of the rezoning along with five members of the business community, said the council was being handed the university rezoning “on a platter” and could not pass up the opportunity.

Preparation work for light rail on Hunter St.

The supporters of the rezoning argued it would help create jobs and continue the city’s revitalisation.

But former Greens councillor Therese Doyle questioned whether the state government’s $650 million spend on light rail had revitalised the city given recent reports of the region’s rising unemployment rate.

“That hasn’t translated into employment. Ithasn’t translated into particularly good architectural design in the city. It hasn’t translated into renewal of our heritage buildings,” she said. “It hasn’t resulted in us being able to supply vibrant cultural spaces. That’s the kind of revitalisation I’m talking about.”

Other speakers against the rezoning urged the council to preserve the corridor for future public transport and for continuous pedestrian and cycling access. They argued the university could be accommodated without using land on the corridor.

The public exhibition period for the rezoning proposal ends on Monday.

The Property Council of did not address the forum, but its submission on the rezoning asks for increased development density between Darby and Brown streets to encourage investment.

But it also says this development should be designed in such a way as to allow people to walk and ride along that section of the corridor.

“The High Line in New York is a perfect example of how to repurpose an old corridor like that,” the Property Council’s Hunter director, Andrew Fletcher, told the Herald before the forum.

“With some innovative design and a bit of flexibility we say you can have your mixed-use development on certain parts of the corridor without sacrificing the active transport link.”