THE state MP for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp, says the Broadmeadow masterplan should not be “a land grab for developers”, but won’t say whether he thinks the area could be used to build residential or affordable housing.
On Saturday the Newcastle Herald reported that the state government has attracted developer interest for a high-rise hotel on land beside Hunter Stadium, and that a new entertainment centre and medium- to high-density housing were part of plans for an overhaul of the 63-hectare site that includes the harness racing track and showground.
But while urban planners have called for the long-awaited Broadmeadow masterplan to include a residential housing element, Mr Crakanthorp said the land was “not a greenfield housing site” and that the redevelopment of the area “should be about delivering sporting facilities”.
“I don’t think we should be looking at that area for housing [and] flogging off public land in a sporting precinct,” he said.
“We want to see a world class sporting precinct with fantastic facilities.”
But while Mr Crakanthorp was keen to talk up his party’s plan to mandate a 25 per cent affordable housing component on residential developments built on state-owned land, he said he saw the Broadmeadow masterplan as an “entirely separate issue” and wouldn’t say whether he thought there was any scope for housing in the precinct.
“Our proposal in regards to land is that we would conduct an audit of all publicly-owned land and would create an affordable housing land register, so I’m not going to go picking off individual areas,” he said.
Asked if he supported a hotel on the north-west side of the site – between Hunter Stadium and Griffiths Road – he said it would be “an appropriate addition” if the plan went ahead with a centre of excellence and entertainment centre.
“However I would need to see the plan first,” he said.
The Liberal Party have been quick to call out Labor’s claims that it is being more responsive to pressure on housing affordability, pointing to the Labor-dominated Newcastle council – and Mr Crakanthorp’s – refusal to support the government’s proposal for 30 affordable housing units on the former rail corridor in Newcastle.
The government’s Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, accused Mr Crakanthorp of “publicly watering down his party’s push for affordable housing on government land” by not backing the project.
But Mr Crakanthorp said that was “ridiculous” and an “attempt to divert attention away from the fact his government has done absolutely nothing to affect housing affordability”.