NEWCASTLE CITY COUNCIL is set to turn its attention to the rejuvenation of Hamilton’s “tired” trading strip, with work proposed on a “roadmap to restore the suburb to its former glory”.
At this week’s meeting, Labor councillors – who hold the balance of power – will put forward a motion calling for the development of a Hamilton masterplan, focusing on Beaumont Street and James Street Plaza.
The work would be partially funded by council and matched dollar-for-dollar by the Hamilton Business Improvement Association.
The motion was met with enthusiasm by the president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Nathan Errington, who has long been advocating for the area’s renewal.
“The street is getting tired, the street is getting a bit weary,” he said. “I think for this to start happening, it will bring life back into Hamilton. That’s what we need.”
According to Mr Errington, it will be the first time since the 1989 earthquake that public funds are channeled into the upgrade of Beaumont Street.
“We’re really keen to start the process for the design phase for James Street Plaza,” he said. “We have to make sure we’ve got the stages right and then we can look for further funding.”
It comes amid mounting concerns over anti-social behaviour and crime on the thoroughfare. Some traders say Beaumont Street has paid the price for the truncation of the railway line and years of funding neglect, while millions of dollars have been channelled into the revitalisation of the East End.
The masterplan would consider whether design techniques could be used to prevent crime in James Street Plaza. It would also take into account the results of community consultation on the future of the plaza last April, where suggestions included a new playground, lighting upgrades, an amphitheatre and more pedestrian zones.
“Hamilton has been impacted by significant changes to the public transport network, and movement of Newcastle’s CBD to the west,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
“A Hamilton concept masterplan delivered in consultation with the local community will prioritise both public and private investment in the Hamilton CBD for years to come.”