Hunter Development Corporation has merged with its Central Coast counterpart in a sign the NSW government’s Newcastle urban renewal project is approaching the home straight.
HDC chief executive Michael Cassel was appointed head of Central Coast Regional Development Corporation in April. Now the two organisations have combined as the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation.
Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said the merged development corporation would have its headquarters at Honeysuckle but would also have a Gosford office.
“Gosford will be a focus, but there continues to be considerable work for the development corporation in the Hunter,” Mr MacDonald said.
Compared with the government’s investment in Newcastle, which has accompanied a multibillion-dollar boom in apartment and office construction, the state’s Central Coast revitalisation program is in its infancy.
Mr Cassel will coordinate the development of the government’s 152-hectare Mt Penang Parklands precinct and improvements to Gosford city centre.
HDC began life in 1992 as Honeysuckle Development Corporation, overseeing the remediation of 50 hectares of former industrial and harbourfront land to stimulate private investment.
It merged with the Regional Land Management Corporation 10 years ago to form Hunter Development Corporation, controlling the remediation of former BHP steelworks land at Mayfield and Kooragang Island.
More recently the Hunter agency has overseen the government’s $650 million Revitalising Newcastle program, including the truncation of the heavy rail line, public space upgrades and construction of the Newcastle Interchange and light rail.
Over the years it has also sold large portions of government-owned land to developers, including the Honeysuckle redevelopment precinct, the 12-hectare Store building in Newcastle West and Iris Capital’s sprawling Hunter Street mall site.
HDC recently placed a 5600 square metre Honeysuckle waterfront site on the market but still has a huge 20,000 square metre block next door to offload.
It plans to create a public promenade along the harbour and a park where Cottage Creek splits the two unsold parcels of waterfront land.
Also on the new HCCDC’s to-do list are completing the sale of Honeysuckle and rail corridor land to the University of Newcastle for a new inner-city campus and the transformation of nearby Civic Station.
It has leased historic Newcastle Station to Renew Newcastle for 18 months but must still work out a long-term use for the former rail terminus.
As the Newcastle Herald reported on Friday, the agency has not yet announced the successful tenderer for a strip of rail corridor land east of Merewether Street and an adjacent block facing Hunter Street.
And Revitalising Newcastle must commission its light rail vehicles before private operator Keolis Downer launches the tram service early next year.