The future of Broadmeadow’s open spaces

EVEN today, it’s easy enough to imagine why Broadmeadow was given the name that it has.

It’s a broad, flat expanse of land, and as a cursory look at an aerial view will show, it’s an area that still retains a substantial amount of open space, some of it used for organised sport, and some of it sitting fallow, as it were, waiting for a definite future.

Unsurprisingly, then, the open spaces of Broadmeadow  – primarily the areas around McDonald Jones Stadium and the adjacent Newcastle Showground – have been the subject of a number of development proposals over the years.

The latest of these, unveiled earlier this month by architects dwp and backed by the Property Council of Australia, imagines much of the showground site as a precinct of medium-rise buildings devoted to residential, commercial and tourism uses.

Now, as part of its vision for the visitor economy, the Newcastle Tourism Industry Group is endorsing the showground plan as the sort of thing that is needed if Newcastle’s development era is to continue beyond the CBD.

In its 2027 report, the infrastructure group lists a new conference centre as the major priority in driving the city’s business- and conference-led growth. Although the group talks about that conference centre as being in the CBD, an eventual development along these lines might be better suited to Broadmeadow, especially if the state government makes good on its promise to extend the light rail west of Wickham.

There is a limit to how much large-scale building that Newcastle and its inner suburbs can easily handle at one time, and while there is nothing wrong, in theory, with opening a second centre of development at Broadmeadow, it might be better to bring the CBD revitalisation to some sort of usable state before we set forth on another all-encompassing period of change.

In time, however, it is highly likely that parts of the Broadmeadow area, currently open space, will be taken up for development. Ideally, that development would link in some way with the area’s present identity as a sporting precinct, but financial reality will almost certainly dictate that some of the land will be utilised for housing.

There will be complaints about a loss of open space, but it may ultimately be a question of inner-suburban development, versus western sprawl.

FUTURISTIC: Architects dwp vision for the Newcastle Showground site.

FUTURISTIC: Architects dwp vision for the Newcastle Showground site.

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