Newcastle rail corridor affordable housing details released

AS IT COULD BE: An artist's impression of the Market Street lawn, its signal box and the light rail.

AS IT COULD BE: An artist's impression of the Market Street lawn, its signal box and the light rail.

NEWCASTLE’s former rail corridor will include 30 affordable homes under a plan revealed on Tuesday morning. 

Planning and Housing Minister Anthony Roberts announced the plan in a bid to provide for “people on moderate incomes who make up our workforce”.

“This is why I’m backing an innovative proposal...to build 30 affordable homes on a site on the corridor,” he said.

“The proposal involves the pooling of government resources by combining Hunter Development Corporation and Newcastle City Council’s affordable housing funding and is awaiting approval from the council.”

The housing would sit between Merewether Street and the defunct Civic Station.

NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and Transport Minister Andrew Constance held a press conference on the rail corridor housing proposal at 11am on Tuesday with Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel.

UrbanGrowth will issue a tender under the proposal to find a community housing provider.

The successful tenderer would deliver, own and manage the homes when the corridor was rezoned.

Mr Roberts said the proposal, along with a Catholic diocese plan for 128 homes on the former Empire Hotel site, would help keep families in the city.

“Both housing developments are in the heart of Newcastle, which is important because it helps ensure we don’t push lower income families to the fringes of the city,” he said.  

Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel said the plan, put forward by his program, would create one, two and three-bedroom family homes near essential services. 

“It is hoped council will consider allocating funding for the proposal at its April meeting, which would be the first step in bringing the concept to life,” he said. 

Fairfax Media reported earlier this year that plans for an “affordable housing” block on a section of line west of Merewether Street were causing arguments even before they have been formally announced.

Mr Cassel unveiled the affordable housing proposal at a March meeting of Newcastle City Council’s building better cities committee.

The proposal involves pooling $3 million of unused council funds with money from the Hunter Development Corporation to build a block that would then be managed by a community housing organisation.

Greens councillor and building better cities committee member Therese Doyle said at the time the committee was “steamrolled” into endorsing the proposal, which she alone voted against.

“It’s an attempt to force the council’s hand by counterposing public transport with public housing, just as happened with the university proposal,” Cr Doyle said.

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