Residents push for tram line heritage listing to hamper development

RESIDENTS have applied to the NSW government to list the old West Wallsend tram line on the state heritage register.

They hope the move will hamper, if not sink, developer Roche Group’s plan for a 404-lot housing subdivision at West Wallsend, which covers part of the old tram line.

Bernard Griffin, spokesman for the West Wallsend-based group Save Our Suburbs, said the application covered a 500-metre section of the former tram line.

The joint regional planning panel is expected to consider Roche Group subsidiary Hammersmith Management’s housing plan soon, having deferred a decision last November.

Mr Griffin said the state heritage listing could stop a major part of the plan going ahead and possibly make the project unviable.

‘‘We want the state government to step in, buy the site and make it a nature reserve as a barrier between West Wallsend and other big developments at Cameron Park,’’ he said.

Roche Group general manager for development Wes van der Gardner said he was not aware of a state heritage application for the tramway.

But Mr van der Gardner said the company would recognise the tramway’s heritage on another site it owned nearby.

It would build a cycleway and signs that told the story of the tramway on land at Cameron Park where a Harrigan’s Irish Pub and Woolworths shopping centre were planned.

Hammersmith is planning to build over the tram line on its West Wallsend site.

The developer said in a report there was ‘‘little evidence’’ of tramway remains on the site, other than a 50-metre section of ballast and old timber posts.

Mr Griffin said that part of the tramway was the ‘‘best preserved section’’.

Holmesville resident Michelle Smith said residents were pushing to extend the recently opened Glendale to Wallsend cycleway along the tram line and through Hammersmith’s West Wallsend site.

‘‘It would be ideal for West Wallsend High School students,’’ Ms Smith said.

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