THE release of the Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy understandably prompted a range of responses, from euphoric support and celebration to scepticism and opposition.
The sceptics seem to have focused on one small element of the strategy – the relocation of the inner-city rail terminus. This part of the plan tends to be referred to as ‘‘ripping out the rail line’’. In reality, this is a small element in a comprehensive renewal plan for our city, and it has distracted us from considering what the strategy will mean for – and offer – the whole community.
Let’s face it, people in other cities in Australia and around the world manage to use a wide range of transport modes in their everyday lives. We can, too.
The Department of Planning and Infrastructure website provides details of funding and public consultation. Every member of the community should review the plan to really understand the potential and renewal this will bring to our city. It is not a strategy, as some have suggested, that has been cobbled together to give faceless developers some opportunity to build on the rail corridor. It is a comprehensive plan that considers public spaces, view corridors, transport, and public, commercial and residential development. It is a forward-looking plan that seeks to enhance and complement what we have, while providing a vision for the future.
I firmly believe that the delivery of this plan will give us all a better city, a city to be proud of, and a city that meets the needs of all citizens. We have been ashamed of the inner city for too long.
This plan needs support from all members of the community. Simply focusing on one tiny element that you mightn’t like is not good enough. If we all ask ‘‘How can we make this work, for everyone?’’, we will achieve something extraordinary. I want to be part of that.