A HUNTER VALLEY business said it was left “blindsided” when it learnt its Hunter Street showroom was subject to a compulsory acquisition for demolition by Transport NSW.
Valley Kitchens has been located on the corner of Hunter Street and Stewart Avenue for 17 years. Business manager Brad Allinson said he was called to a meeting with Transport NSW in November 2016.
He thought the meeting was about being updated on works at the Wickham Transport Interchange.
“But to go into a meeting with five suits, four of them probably from Sydney, all from the acquisitions section of Transport NSW,” Mr Allinson said. “It was a total shock.”
At the meeting he was told that the family-owned building would be acquired and demolished to make way for a new turning lane from Stewart Avenue into Honeysuckle Drive.
Transport NSW said the property was being acquired to enable wider road lanes, pedestrian safety measures and improved sight lines. Work at this intersection is part of a larger proposed package of road works designed to support the introduction and operation of light rail.
At the time Valley Kitchens learnt of the planned works it had just begun what was to be a major showroom renovation.
Negotiations are now underway between Valley Kitchens and Transport NSW, but Mr Allinson said figures on the table were not enough to buy a similarly positioned building in the Newcastle CBD.
“The numbers that are being bandied around are a slap in the face,” he said.
“We have been there for 17 years, 16 of them it was the dead-end of town, now it’s about to go through the roof … there is no compensation for that.”
Valley Kitchens has a factory in Thornton, where they will open a new showroom. The business will endeavour to maintain a presence in Newcastle CBD.
“Given real estate prices, it’s a wait and see scenario,” he said.
Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel said decisions about property acquisition were not taken lightly.
“Road upgrades are needed in the city centre to integrate light rail into the existing road network to help manage congestion, improve road safety and support traffic flows into the future,” Mr Cassel said.
The works will be carried out to ensure the safety of an increased number of road users, cyclists and pedestrians at this intersection, Mr Cassel said.
Wider road lanes, pedestrian safety measures and improved sight lines are part of planned works.
The light rail is expected to begin operating in 2019.