NEWCASTLE City Council’s plan to expand angled parking on Hunter Street should concern residents, retailers and businesses, but not necessarily because parking nose-in at 45 degrees is such a bad thing.
What should really concern ratepayers is that the proposal may not be compatible with the state’s, nor the council’s, vision for the city.
The council’s decision to put the plans on public exhibition at a time when details about the CBD’s transport plan are still unclear begs the question of how close is the council working with the state to revitalise Newcastle?
According to the state government’s Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy, Newcastle, from the East End to the West End, will have 12,000 new residents and 10,000 extra workers by 2036. But how will they move about?
Obviously planners from both tiers of government have forecast greater pedestrian movement and that will suit many visitors, shoppers and tourists, but the CBD workforce will also expand requiring an efficient public transport system.
The state is promising extra bus services, perhaps another 200 a day, with a timetable that is integrated with the train timetable once the rail line ends at Wickham.
But as former councillor and traffic committee chairman Graham Boyd points out, how will the extra buses move through the city with more cars in it and no bus lane?
If buses are the solution to Newcastle’s future transport needs then provision must be made for them in all government planning, both local and state, and those provisions may have to come at the expense of extra car parking spaces.
More importantly, greater progress must be made by the state on transport planning for the city and it must be done in collaboration with the council to ensure that both tiers of government are heading in the right direction.
Specifically, the time is fast approaching for the state to provide more detailed answers about public transport in a post-rail line Newcastle before the council forges ahead with a parking plan that might be incompatible with it.
What bus routes will there be once the rail line is gone? What timetables will they operate on? Will there be sweeping changes to train timetables once services terminate at Wickham?
These are exciting times for our city, but without an integrated and efficient approach from all tiers of government there won’t be an integrated and efficient transport system for Newcastle.