Newcastle councillors to debate 40km/h speed limit in Hunter Street mall

Newcastle City Council will vote on Tuesday night on a plan to reinstate kerb and guttering to the Hunter Street mall and increase its speed limit from 10 km/h to 40 km/h.

Council officers recommend councillors adopt stage one of the “East End Streetscape Plan”, which converts the level pedestrian mall into a “traditional high street” with wide footpaths.

The makeover would accompany Iris Capital’s $700 million mall redevelopment under way on the site of the former David Jones building.

The council’s landscape plan includes a two-way cycle path, new paving and tree planting to give the area “a cool urban feel straight out of Soho, New York”. It retains a single lane for westbound traffic and parallel parking. 

A handful of residents objected to the new 40km/h speed limit when the plan was put on public display in April, but the report to councillors says no amendments are required based on the feedback.

“Converting Hunter Street from a shared zone to a standard ‘high-street’ design will improve the amenity of the street, consistency in the road treatment and provide clear delineation between vehicles, cyclists and pedestrian spaces,” it reads.

“Overall these changes will improve the attractiveness of the streetscape and reduce space conflicts in the area.”

The report says there was strong public support for wide pedestrian paths and outdoor dining, a separated cycleway, a formal avenue of trees and improved lighting and seating.

One resident questioned the council’s use of the name “East End” to describe the area, but the report does not support using the term “Mall” as the street was reopened to cars in 2009.   

The plan includes landscaping in Market Street to create a strong link to the waterfront. 

“An intimate dining square is provided at the southern end of Market Street flanked by retail,” it says.

“This square will be delivered as part of the East End development application.”

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Meanwhile, the council will also revisit plans for a major new sporting complex at Maryland to serve the city’s growing western fringe.

In 2015, Glencore, the parent company of Newcastle Wallsend Coal Company, offered to donate 15.5 hectares of land bordering wetlands to the council for community purposes.

It is understood the land transfer has been delayed by the wetlands’ gazetting under NSW’s 2016 Coastal Management Act, a move completed in April.

The Newcastle Herald reported in December 2016 that a concept plan for the sporting complex off Creek Road included soccer and AFL playing fields, cricket pitches, 180 parking spaces, a playground, cycle paths and an amenities block.

It would incorporate nearby Fletcher Park to create a 20-hectare precinct.   

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