NSW Government releases Draft Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan

Vision: Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser, Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent, Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer and Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes at Fort Scratchley on Thursday. Picture: Simone De Peak
Vision: Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser, Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent, Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer and Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes at Fort Scratchley on Thursday. Picture: Simone De Peak

A new fund is being developed to make sure money is available for infrastructure projects that the Greater Newcastle area needs as it grows over the next 20 years.

The Hunter Special Infrastructure Contributions Fund is part of the Draft Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, which NSW chief planner Gary White unveiled on Thursday.

Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said the new fund was not a replacement for the Hunter Infrastructure Investment Fund, which wound up at the end of last financial year.

NSW chief planner Gary White. Picture: Simone De Peak

NSW chief planner Gary White. Picture: Simone De Peak

Where the HIIF provided money for a wide range of projects – including for sporting organisations and community groups – Mr MacDonald said the new fund would collect financial contributions from developers solely for state infrastructure.

Details of the new fund are still being finalised but are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

The Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan will be a strategy to make the most of the city’s growth in the coming years.

Housing, transport and population growth are key aspects of the Draft Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, released on Thursday. Picture: Simone De Peak

Housing, transport and population growth are key aspects of the Draft Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, released on Thursday. Picture: Simone De Peak

A growing entrepreneurial economy, rich natural environment, wide variety of housing and jobs, and fostering thriving communities were the four main goals set out in the draft document.

According to the plan, Greater Newcastle refers to the Newcastle, Cessnock, Port Stephens, Lake Macquarie and Maitland local government areas.

“Greater Newcastle is expected to grow to 700,000 people in 2036 [up from 540,000 in 2017], with potential to grow further over the longer term, making it an important metropolitan city,” Mr White said.

“That projected growth reflects Greater Newcastle’s strengths and its enormous potential. However, until today it was the only Australian city of this size without a metropolitan plan. This is an exciting and significant step.”

Mr MacDonald said recent investment in aviation, defence industries, transport, education, health and tourism had created “a great buzz” in the Hunter.

Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald.

Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald.

“Greater Newcastle has grown from an industrial town to a successful diversified economy, and now it is primed to step up as Australia’s newest metropolitan city,” he said.

The plan identifies Broadmeadow, Callaghan, East Maitland, John Hunter Hospital, Kotara, Newcastle City Centre, Newcastle Airport, the Port of Newcastle and “major trading hubs” at Beresfield-Black Hill and Tomago as areas that will continue to drive the transformation of the city into a metropolitan area.

“These locations will underpin new job opportunities in specialised employment areas for health, defence, education and research, as well as new mixed employment areas, with a focus on integrating land use and infrastructure, open space and urban design,” the plan noted.

It predicts that at least an extra 18,150 jobs will be needed across Greater Newcastle by 2036 – with the largest number (7750) required in Newcastle CBD.

Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent, Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser and Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer joined Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Mr MacDonald and Mr White to speak in support of the plan at Fort Scratchley on Thursday.

Cr Nelmes pointed to the integration of land use and transport as the most significant part of the strategy.

“We’ve just seen the release of the [NSW Government’s] Future Transport Plan – that draft – and that, very much, is reflected in the draft metropolitan strategy,” she said.

“Those transport corridors linking John Hunter Hospital to the CBD, to the university, as well as to other nodes like Glendale, are so important in the development of this metropolitan area.”

The plan is available and open for public feedback on the NSW Planning website until the end of February.