Newcastle council votes to rezone NBN television site in The Hill as medium-density housing

A plan to turn the land that harbours the NBN television studios into medium-density housing has cleared its first hurdle. 

Newcastle Council will begin a process to rezone the land at The Hill, bounded by Mosbri Crescent and Kitchener Parade. It could accommodate up to 190 dwellings in five buildings, up to seven storeys high. 

The broadcaster’s current site is “no longer suitable” since the introduction of digital television, and it is searching for land within the Newcastle CBD to construct purpose-built studios. 

In a statement to the Herald, managing director Kylie Blucher welcomed the council’s decision. 

“We are pleased with the council’s endorsement of the planning proposal to rezone our current site. It is early stages in the process and we will be looking at an alternative site/opportunities in the New Year,” she said. 

The decision was passed with the support of Labor and Liberal councillors and the Independents. It was opposed by the Greens, who argued the tallest building would obscure the sprawling views over the city looking west from Wolfe Street.

Nestled in a bowl-shaped site, the building would sit about .8 metres above street level. Because of the slope, Councillor Michael Osborne said he would only be satisfied if the top of the building was lower than the street level. 

He also called for an architectural design competition to ensure the aesthetics of the building were up to standard. 

“Some of the development [in the city] is really quite good and others you look at it and think that is such a wasted opportunity and really we are being treated like a second class country town,” he said. 

Cr Brad Luke (Liberal) said one of the biggest issues facing the city was housing affordability, which was worsening with the record-low interest rates. 

“People need somewhere to live and what we do have control of is things like approving higher density housing,” he said. 

“We also have control over not increasing costs… and an architectural design competition adds quite a lot to those costs.” 

The rezoning plan will take in the 1.22 hectare NBN site and an adjoining eight parcels of land to the west, which are privately owned and zoned low-density residential. 

There will now be community consultation on the plan, which will be forwarded to the state government for consideration. 

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