Newcastle council gives green light to Gibson Street car park redevelopment

BOLD: An artist's impression of the new building, looking east towards the coast from King Street.
BOLD: An artist's impression of the new building, looking east towards the coast from King Street.

PARKING relief is on its way for Newcastle after the city council approved a bold new car park slated for the CBD.

Councillors on Tuesday night gave Lake Macquarie businessman Darren Nicholson’s proposal to revamp the Gibson Street car park, located next to the Newcastle Permanent building, the green light, adding 296 car spaces to the city centre upon completion.

Mr Nicholson also hopes the new car park will be a recognisable feature of the CBD, with colourful aluminum panels that will decorate the outside of the building set to be a major break from the dilapidated building that exists now.

The existing car park will be retained and reinforced, with an additional five split levels of parking to be built on top, bringing the building height to about 35 metres – slightly higher than Newcastle’s height restrictions.

DRIVEN: Lake Macquarie businessman Darren Nicholson is the plans.

DRIVEN: Lake Macquarie businessman Darren Nicholson is the plans.

The building will also house a childcare centre and cafe.

In backing Mr Nicholson’s proposal, councillors acknowledged the parking stress felt by motorists in the city centre.

It comes as car parks are set to be lost in the Honeysuckle area as new development is planned, prompting concerns from office workers who commute via car that public transport options are not up to scratch and not viable for them.

Cr David Compton (Liberal) said the new car park was “much-needed” and predicted it would be popular.

“I know we do need car parking in the city, and I think the developer’s going to create a space there that is going to be well-used by the city … it is much-needed,” he said.

Cr Michael Osborne (Greens) said the new car park was a “much better option” than the existing building.

NEW LOOK: An impression of the building looking west towards Marketown. The bottom level would be devoted to a new childcare centre and cafe.

NEW LOOK: An impression of the building looking west towards Marketown. The bottom level would be devoted to a new childcare centre and cafe.

“I was happy to accept the increased height to get the outcomes for parking for the inner city,” he said.

However, Greens ally Therese Doyle disagreed, and said the car park was “too high” and representative of “over-development”.

“It continues the encroachment of the development into the conservation area of Cooks Hill,” she said.

The council backed the development without Cr Doyle’s vote.

Meanwhile, the Newcastle Inner City Residents Alliance (NICRA) has objected to a proposal to turn a historic King Street building into apartments.

The proposal for the building known as Ireland Bond Store, located at the corner of King and Perkins streets, is to build an additional two levels on top of the existing four-level structure.

The building’s owner, John Carmody, argued that the redevelopment would give the building a “new lease on life” and would “enhance” its history.

However, NICRA said that the proposal was a “very significant” breach of height and floor space restrictions.