Newcastle Airport is conducting due diligence on 76 hectares of land in the Williamtown red zone, which it wants to turn into a business park.
A parliamentary hearing in Newcastle on Thursday heard that the airport had “taken an option” on a parcel of land, which joins the southern boundary of RAAF Base Williamtown and the airport, between Nelson Bay Road, Williamtown Drive and Cabbage Tree Road.
The Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation heard from several stakeholders from across the Hunter on about the region’s strengths, needs and challenges.
The inquiry is investigating the best approaches to regional development and is considering decentralising Commonwealth entities from capital cities.
Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock told the hearing that his organisation wanted to establish a precinct focused on defence and mining industries.
Dr Cock said the land was in the PFAS contamination red zone, but would be safe to develop for business use.
He said the move, which is part of the airport’s 20-year master plan scheduled for release next year, would help “restore confidence” in Williamtown. The greenfield site already has development application approval.
“Our plans for this site include developing an industry hub that builds on the region’s strengths in defence, aviation, technology, and other technology-rich industries such as advanced manufacturing and mining,” Dr Cock said after the hearing.
“We know that bringing industry, research, education and entrepreneurial spirit together is vital for innovation.
“Over the coming months we will consult with key stakeholders for the region to better understand how this development can help to achieve others’ goals for the future, and to fuel growth – both economic and social.
“We’re not looking to quickly flip this land. We are committed to helping our region prosper and this is a great step.”
Earlier, during the hearing, Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes outlined the various strengths of the city, such as the CBD revitalisation, economic growth, development of infrastructure and the tourism economy, the Smart City strategy and a focus on the defence, heavy engineering and aerospace sectors.
She also addressed regional job cuts and problems with the National Broadband Network as challenges facing the city.
“We strongly support relocation of government agencies and private sector organisations to Newcastle to continue to grow and diversify our employment and economic base, encourage investment and build on our natural advantages,” Cr Nelmes said.