Frequently asked questions about the Revitalising Newcastle program:
What is the rail corridor planning proposal? Is it a development application?
The planning proposal is a document that explains the intended effect of the proposed amendment to the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan 2012 (LEP), and what those changes may enable - it is not a development application.
The planning proposal suggests new land uses for the former heavy rail corridor in Newcastle between Worth Place and Newcastle Station and reflects business and community feedback gathered through the 2015 Revitalising Newcastle community engagement program.
Revitalising Newcastle has been working closely with Newcastle City Council throughout the design of the planning proposal, especially during the Revitalising Newcastle community engagement period. The goal has always been to deliver a unified vision for the corridor.
As required under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, Newcastle City Council is managing the process to rezone the former rail corridor between Worth Place and Newcastle Station. A planning proposal submitted to Council in July 2016 outlined Revitalising Newcastle's vision for the land, in line with what the majority of the community told us they wanted to see.
Council has amended and progressed the planning proposal, which has also been reviewed by the Department of Environment and Planning, allowing Council to place it on public exhibition. This is expected to happen in mid-2017.
Council's public exhibition will be your opportunity to comment on the planning proposal. Council will review all submissions before it considers endorsing and submitting the proposal to the NSW Government to amend the Local Environmental Plan.
We expect the rezoning process to continue late into the year and the outcome to reflect the community's majority view.
Do the visualisations show exactly how the corridor will look?
The animation and images are artistic impressions of what may be enabled on the corridor with the Local Environmental Plan 2012 (LEP) amendments suggested by the planning proposal.
What are the proposed rezonings?
To activate the city and attract people, new enterprises and tourism, the planning proposal suggests amending the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan 2012 by rezoning the land from infrastructure to public recreation, tourist, and mixed use.
The proposed zones generally align with the existing uses either side of the rail corridor, to create a logical land use zoning pattern in the Newcastle city centre.
What area is covered in the planning proposal?
The planning proposal covers an area of approximately 4.25ha, from Worth Place in the west to Newcastle Station in the east.
More than three-quarters of the corridor is intended to be used for community purposes including education, public recreation, affordable housing and tourism.
The rest of the corridor is proposed as mixed use zoning for retail, commercial and residential uses that revitalise Hunter and Scott streets while respecting Newcastle’s heritage and character. New pedestrian and active transport connections are included in the plan and the proposed zones generally align with the existing uses on either side of the rail corridor.
Where will there be buildings and how high will they be?
Through the planning proposal, Revitalising Newcastle is suggesting to match zoning heights on the corridor with adjoining heights, which range between 14 and 30 metres – generally buildings between three and nine storeys.
The proposal generally suggests higher buildings in the west and lower buildings in the east. It also includes a restriction for buildings on the site of the Newcastle Station, to be no higher than the existing buildings for the Scott Street frontage, or 10m for the remainder of the site.
What guarantees can you give to prevent developers exceeding the proposed height limits?
UrbanGrowth NSW has lodged a planning proposal with Newcastle City Council that includes proposed height controls. These controls, which align with the height controls on land either side of the rail corridor, also take into consideration existing built form, visual analysis, overshadowing, and suitability of the site for development.
Revitalising Newcastle believes the proposed heights align with what the community wants to see and are respectful of the city’s heritage and character.
Newcastle City Council will consider proposed amendments to the Newcastle Development Control Plan 2012 (the DCP) to support and control the proposed building heights and floor space controls, including street wall heights and setbacks.
The package of controls including the planning proposal and proposed DCP amendments will be considered by Council and there will be an opportunity for public comment.
Final heights will be incorporated into the Newcastle LEP to control any future development.
Will there be public space?
The planning proposal suggests four main public domain areas along the corridor – the areas around Market Street, Newcastle Station, Civic, and Darby Street. More than three-quarters of the corridor from Worth Place to Newcastle Station is intended to be used for community purposes including education, public recreation, affordable housing and tourism. Already there is pedestrian access across the former corridor via seven temporary crossings.
The open space proposed for Market Street has been transformed into the Market Street Lawn, an active public space to be programmed with community events
A development application has been lodged with Newcastle City Council to landscape the Lawn and repurpose the Signal Box. If the development application is approved, we will undertake construction works later in 2017. This will temporarily limit the use of the space. To accommodate the anticipated work on the Lawn, we are taking bookings for the space until 30 June 2017. Construction will limit use of the space from July onwards.
What's happening to Newcastle and Civic stations?
The heritage-listed Newcastle Station and its surrounds are proposed to be adaptively re-used to establish a significant destination for visitors and locals. We hope to see the building temporarily used until a permanent use is identified through an Expressions of Interest (EOI) process in 2018.
The area around Civic Station is proposed as the cultural and education heart of the city, where greater north-south connections connect Civic Park, the Civic precinct, the education and entertainment precincts and the harbour. The next steps will include working with heritage experts and landscape architects to develop a public domain plan and submit a DA.
Newcastle Light Rail
About the project
What is Newcastle Light Rail?
Newcastle Light Rail will be 2.7km in length, running from Newcastle Interchange at Wickham to Pacific Park in Newcastle East. Stops will be located at Newcastle Interchange, Honeysuckle (near Hunter Street TAFE), Civic, Crown Street, Market Street and Pacific Park.
When will customers be able to use the light rail?
Light rail services are set to start running for customers in early 2019.
What are the benefits of light rail for Newcastle?
Light rail will provide frequent, comfortable and reliable transport for people who live, work and play in the city centre. Customers will be able to get to key locations across the city centre quickly and easily, with services running every 7.5 minutes during peak hours.
Light rail will help reinvigorate Newcastle’s once thriving main street by bringing people back to the city centre, and delivering customers to the front door of local business.
How will I transfer from light rail to other modes?
Light rail customers will be able to connect with other transport modes at Newcastle Interchange, a fully accessible multi-modal interchange at Wickham. The interchange will integrate trains, buses, taxis, light rail, bikes and a kiss and ride bay.
Newcastle Interchange will be the final stop for customers travelling to Newcastle on the Central Coast and Newcastle, and Hunter train lines.
How often will services operate?
High frequency turn-up-and-go services will run every 7.5 minutes during peak hours.
How many passengers will each light rail service carry?
Newcastle Light Rail will have the capacity to transport about 1,200 people per hour, with one light rail vehicle able to carry the same amount of passengers as three full buses.
Why does Newcastle’s public transport network need to change?
The current transport system in Newcastle isn’t working. Public transport patronage has dropped and service levels are below standard. With a growing population and the CBD being revitalised, a new approach is required in order to make public transport a more attractive travel option.
Light rail will be a significant addition to the network, providing frequent, comfortable and reliable transport and transforming the way people move around the city centre.
But light rail is only part of the solution. In order for Newcastle to reach its potential, a modern and integrated transport system that connects customers with frequent and reliable buses, ferries, walking and cycling paths is needed.
This is why the NSW Government is introducing Newcastle Transport; a new transport provider to run buses, ferries and light rail, implementing an integrated transport solution critical to Newcastle's reinvention as a modern, vibrant city.
Evidence from around the world shows that a locally based, multi-modal approach works in cities like Newcastle. It means decisions are made with a sole focus on meeting local needs and growing patronage.
Who will operate light rail?
Light rail will be operated by Newcastle Transport. Keolis Downer has been announced as the successful bidder to run Newcastle Transport over the next ten years.
Newcastle Transport will run buses, ferries and light rail, implementing an integrated transport solution critical to Newcastle's reinvention as a modern, vibrant city.
With Newcastle Transport overhauling bus and ferry timetables in 2018, and running light rail services from early 2019, customers in Newcastle are set to enjoy better transport services than ever before.
How much will the new light rail cost to build?
The NSW Government has committed more than $500 million to revitalise Newcastle’s city centre through the Revitalising Newcastle program.
As part of Revitalising Newcastle, the government is delivering light rail, the Newcastle Interchange, better transport services, road and intersection upgrades, and revitalisation of land in the former heavy rail corridor, including improved public spaces.
Are the light rail vehicles accessible for all members of the community?
A key focus of ours has been to ensure that the light rail system will be accessible for all members of the community.
Light rail vehicles and stops will be fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, and will also facilitate easy access and travel for passengers with prams and strollers.
Light rail vehicles will include low floors and designated spaces for wheelchairs and seats for elderly or less mobile passengers.
How are you supporting businesses affected by construction?
As with any major construction, there will be some short term disruption when light rail is being built.
During construction, dedicated engagement managers will provide businesses with personalised advice and assistance, and businesses and residents will have access to a 24-hour construction response line.
But it’s important to remember that the government is investing over $500 million in infrastructure and urban revitalisation initiatives that will deliver significant benefits for Newcastle.
Revitalising Newcastle is committed to bringing people back into the city centre to live, work and play in vibrant surroundings. During light rail construction, events and activities will draw people into the city and help generate excitement and momentum as Newcastle goes through an unprecedented period of revitalisation.
Already there is renewed energy and excitement in the city centre. We’ll work to minimise inconvenience and support businesses through construction, so they can reap the benefits of Newcastle’s bright future.
Who is building light rail?
Downer EDI is the managing contractor delivering light rail in Newcastle on behalf of Transport for NSW.
When will light rail construction start?
Site and service investigations for the project are well under-way and work to make way for the light rail depot will start mid-2017.
Construction for the light rail route is expected to start around mid-2017, and we are currently working with the Managing Contractor to bed down the construction schedule.
How will residents and businesses be notified about construction in their area?
Notifications with detailed information about upcoming work will be delivered to residents and businesses throughout construction. This information will also be available at revitalisingnewcastle.nsw.gov.au
In what hours will work take place?
Most work will be carried out during standard construction hours from 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday and Saturdays from 8am to 1pm, weather permitting. We will notify nearby residents and businesses if we need to do any work outside these times.
Will there be weekend and night work?
Weekend and night works may take place in some circumstances. These include:
- Where emergency work is required to avoid harm to people, property and/or the environment; or
- Where delivery of oversized equipment, materials or structures require special arrangements is required; or
- Where a road occupancy license can only be obtained for out-of-hours; or
- Where works cause unacceptable risks to public safety, construction personnel safety, road network operational performance and/or essential utility services.
In the event of weekend or night work, affected stakeholders will be notified well in advance.
Who do I contact with an enquiry or complaint about light rail construction?
Is light rail a more sustainable transport option?
Light rail is an environmentally-focused mode of transport that promotes clean, efficient travel. It will provide a sustainable public transport option to customers who live, work and travel within the CBD, easing the pressure on Newcastle’s roads by reducing the city’s reliance on cars and buses.
Will Newcastle light rail have overhead wires?
Newcastle will have Australia’s first majority wire-free light rail system.
Newcastle’s Light Rail vehicles will have an on board energy storage device, which will be incorporated into the roof of the vehicles. As the light rail vehicle pulls up to a stop, an arm will connect with a charging wire above the stop, and by the time customers get on and off, charging will be complete.
This technology also improves Newcastle Light Rail’s sustainability rating and reduces its energy requirement through regenerative braking, which means when the light rail vehicles slow down, energy is put back into the energy storage device.
This change leverages recent advances in technology that are appropriate for the Newcastle route and topography, and that respect and enhance Newcastle’s heritage architecture.
Will fares be higher because the light rail is privately owned?
No. All public transport fares are set by Transport for NSW in accordance with advice from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).
Why won’t light rail follow the old heavy rail corridor?
Newcastle Light Rail will travel between Newcastle Interchange in the west and Pacific Park in the east, delivering customers just 200 metres from Newcastle Beach. Six light rail stops will provide easy access to key destinations such as the University of Newcastle’s NeW Space campus, law courts and Civic Theatre, as well as delivering customers to the doorstep of businesses, which will help drive the local economy.
Light rail is considered a key driver in urban renewal. Running light rail on Hunter and Scott Streets will activate these areas, delivering people as close as possible to shops and services in the city centre and in turn, creating vibrant community, retail, commercial and entertainment precincts.
Running light rail along Hunter and Scott Streets will reinvigorate Newcastle’s once thriving main streets and also allows the former corridor to be transformed into attractive open public spaces, education, residential, commercial and retail opportunities.
Will light rail be extended to other areas in future?
Extensions are being considered as part of long-term transport planning for Newcastle. There are many ideas for potential extensions of the light rail, and it is important that these options are grounded in evidence-based planning that considers customer needs and demand, engineering feasibility and the integration of transport and land use. We look forward to working with Newcastle Transport to identify what opportunities exist for possible light rail extensions in the future.
Traffic and parking
How will changes to traffic be managed during construction?
Up-to-date information about changed traffic conditions, including temporary closures of parts of Hunter and Scott Streets to traffic, will be displayed on electronic message signs and will be available at revitalisingnewcastle.nsw.gov.au.
Changed traffic conditions may cause delays and we encourage people to take this into account when planning their trip. For the latest traffic information, visit livetraffic.com or download the Live Traffic app.
What will happen to bus routes?
Bus stops along the on-street portion of the light rail route will be relocated ahead of major light rail construction commencing. Bus routes will move off Hunter and Scott streets, and onto King Street or Honeysuckle Drive and Wharf Road.
How many parking spaces will be lost as a result of construction and the light rail?
Building light rail and the Newcastle Interchange will impact around 280 parking spaces, which is 2.45% of the more than 11,000 parking spaces available in the city centre. At the same time, the NSW Government is giving Novocastrians real choices about how they travel and viable alternatives to using their car.
Light rail will provide frequent, comfortable and reliable transport, transforming the way people move around the city centre, with services running every 7.5 minutes during peak hours.
Light rail forms part of an integrated transport solution critical to Newcastle's reinvention as a modern, vibrant city. A new transport operator, Newcastle Transport, will overhaul bus and ferry timetables in 2018 and will operate light rail from early 2019. Customers in Newcastle are set to enjoy better transport services than ever before.
Looking ahead, not addressing parking in a proactive way puts Newcastle at risk of growing traffic congestion and frustrated commuters. Evidence shows that car parking works best when integrated and aligned with broader transport initiatives, which is why the NSW Government developed a Newcastle City Centre Parking Strategy to help set a future direction for Newcastle City Council to consider as it plans how parking is managed in the city in future.
Further information can be found in the Newcastle City Centre Parking Strategy in the library.