Government’s plan for Newcastle CBD ticks all the boxes

As the 2015 NSW election gets closer, the political rhetoric from some candidates is moving from the sublime to the ridiculous.

They ignore the fact that the Hunter’s capital has a new planning framework in place that is fuelling a $1 billion pipeline of investment in new housing and other city-building projects.

Transformative change like this only occurs when three key factors align.

Firstly, there must be economic and social imperative for change. Secondly, robust public policy must be developed and ground-truthed by extensive consultation. Finally, there must be political leadership to allow the policy to be implemented.

The government’s vision for Newcastle ticks all those boxes.

And not just the current government, but also the former Labor government which started the process almost 10 years ago.

It is serious, long-term planning to ensure future generations have a pathway to smart growth through sustainable jobs, affordable housing and unrivalled public amenity.

And now it is done.

A paradigm shift is about to occur and by 2020 the Newcastle city centre will be unrecognisable to us today. Green buildings will be integrated with stunning heritage restorations. A modern light rail service will deliver more people, more frequently, to the places where they live, learn, work and play.

And the old heavy rail corridor, once a barrier to progress, will be a green link 1818 - 1918 - for pedestrians and cyclists – a Fernleigh Track through the heart of the city.

Inevitably, change on this scale generates conflict. But a civilised society puts respect among the protagonists and an examination of the facts at the forefront of dealing with conflict.

It recognises that decisions must be taken for the greater good.

It then charges government and the private sector with responsibility for delivering on the promise of a better future.

These are the facts of the matter.

Andrew Fletcher is the NSW regional director, Hunter at Property Council of Australia

This piece was first published in the Maitland Mercury