Rally ahead of Newcastle council vote on rail rezoning | poll

An alliance of community groups will rally outside Newcastle City Hall on Thursday night ahead of a potential landmark decision on the future of the heavy rail corridor. 

Newcastle Council will hold an extraordinary meeting to vote on whether the land between Worth Place and Newcastle Station – which is currently zoned for public transport – should be rezoned to allow for mixed-use development, public recreation, educational and tourist uses. 

The rezoning would pave the way for UrbanGrowth to realise its vision of at least a dozen buildings and three new parks on the 4.25 hectare parcel of land. 

An alliance of community groups plan to rally before the meeting from 6.30pm under the banner “Keep Rail on the Corridor”. 

Greens councillors Therese Doyle and Michael Osborne were also galvanizing support on Thursday afternoon, calling on fellow councillors to stand up to “veiled threats” from Transport Minister Andrew Constance. 

“To date Council has stood up to the aggression coming from Macquarie Street and I’m hopeful we will keep a pro-community majority in place to protect our vital transport corridor,” Cr Doyle said. 

“It’s not Minister Constance’s money, nor is it Premier Baird’s, this is public money and it has all come from the privatisation of Newcastle Port. 

“If the money is not spent on destroying the rail corridor it must be spent elsewhere in Newcastle to deliver a real public benefit.” 

It came after Mr Constance and Planning Minister Rob Stokes issued a stern rebuke to Member for Newcastle and Labor councillor Tim Crakanthorp on Wednesday, accusing him of “torpedoing” the revitalisation of the inner city by stalling progress on the rezoning of the corridor. 

The matter was due to be voted on at last month’s ordinary meeting of council but was deferred after Cr Crakanthorp argued UrbanGrowth should first hold an open briefing about its plans with the opportunity for public input. 

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