West End to become the CBD

NEWCASTLE'S West End will evolve to become the city's "future CBD", according to detailed planning documents released by the state government yesterday.

The draft Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy shows plans to revitalise Hunter Street by widening footpaths, building a dual-direction cycleway and an "activity zone", and landscaping

At the site of the iconic Store building the strategy shows plans for a redevelopment up to 90 metres high - almost double the size of the city's tallest buildings.

Newcastle MP Tim Owen yesterday raised the possibility that the Store site, which is still owned by businessman Con Constantine, could be redeveloped as part of the new Wickham terminus.

"The Stores (sic) site presents a major redevelopment opportunity due to the large consolidated landholding, long frontage to Hunter Street and proximity to the transport interchange at Wickham," the strategy said.

The west end of Newcastle is flagged for large-scale redevelopment, in part because it is not undermined to the same extent as the rest of the city.

"The predominance of larger lots and consolidated land ownerships, combined with fewer constraints, make this precinct ideally suited to become the long-term commercial core of the city."

The streetscape of Hunter Street will change dramatically, with traffic reduced to one lane in either direction.

Diagrams show a clearway lane for morning peak traffic, with parking spaced between trees.

A dual-direction cycleway, with a barricade protecting cyclists from traffic, is proposed as a trial measure.

"Hunter Street needs to be able to stand alone as a great place, however, by its very nature it needs to lead somewhere and connect to other places," the strategy said.

The redevelopment of the Hunter Street Mall, potentially costing about $600 million, would not be allowed to block views of Christ Church Cathedral.

A new laneway connecting Perkins Street and Wolfe Street could be created between the existing David Jones building and the adjoining car park.

Transportation is included in the strategy, despite the lack of detail about specific measures to replace the inner-city section of the rail line.

It proposes capping the number of parking spaces in Newcastle at 11,000 - the city currently has about 10,500 spaces - including relaxing the requirement for developers to provide private spaces.

Park-and-ride stations at Warabrook, Adamstown Heights and New Lambton "should also be investigated", and would be serviced by buses every 15 minutes.

The strategy said heritage buildings should be maintained: "Heritage is a key asset in Newcastle and retention and adaptive reuse of heritage buildings is an essential component of urban renewal."

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