Planning authorities approve second stage of Iris Capital's Hunter Street mall redevelopment

The developers behind Newcastle's East End precinct say early works on stage two of the project, which comprises of 116 apartments and five terraces, will begin on Monday, after planning authorities approved the project on Thursday. 

The next stage of the mixed residential and retail development, bound by King, Thorn, Wolfe and Hunter streets, consists of two apartment buildings, which incorporate the historic facades of the Lyrique Theatre and masonic hall.

Iris Capital director Sam Arnaout said early works on the project were to begin on Monday. Physical works are expected to start in the second half of the year.

“It is fitting that certainty around this transformative development comes so soon after one of the most significant progressions in Newcastle’s history – the introduction of light rail," Mr Arnaout said. 

"The city has been opened up to the waterfront and the East End will now be one of the most impressive, convenient places to live – comparable to the best urban living anywhere in the world."

The Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel granted approval for the second stage of the four-part development after an animated public meeting on Thursday night.

Dr Joshua George runs his surgery from a Victorian terrace in a strip of four, otherwise owned by Iris Capital, on King Street.The general practitioner disputed sun studies, provided by the developer, which found his block was in shadow after 9am. The new "Lyrique" apartment building will sit behind his clinic.  

"My main reason for being here is to preserve my amenities of the sunlight," Dr George said. 

"I must be the only doctor in the whole world with the sunlight on my back.

"Accordingly we took photos of the rear of the building last summer with the rear of the building bathed in glorious sunshine… We also see the sky from all the three levels."

ROW: A row of Victorian terraces on King Street will be renovated as part of the project.

ROW: A row of Victorian terraces on King Street will be renovated as part of the project.

Steve Busteed, an architect and patient of Dr George for thirty years, who also spoke, said he and Dr George were "not negative" about the result of the meeting. 

Mr Busteed said the panel had confirmed Dr George would be able to maintain his right of carriageway and continue to operate the surgery throughout the construction of stage two. 

"He has to give up a bit of sunlight. That’s reasonable but not perfect," Mr Busteed said. 

"We’re not objecting to the development as a whole, it's a very important project for Newcastle."

Ron Brown from the Newcastle Hunter Urban Planning Transport Alliance raised issues regarding the number of parking spots included on the site, saying he was concerned council "was not meeting its own standards" in regards to parking.  

Helen Sharrock said community liaison offered to neighbouring residents during stage one's construction was "a joke" and there was "no appropriate way to lodge concerns". 

Mr Arnaout said the resident's comments were incorrect, and that a mobile phone number of a community contact had been provided, but there was "always room for improvement".

Director of SJB Planning Alison McCabe said the development sought to provide all residential parking but relied on council changing the way it operated its CBD car park and that "people's behaviours will change due to their proximity to facilities and services."

The public meeting was chaired by Michael Leavey, Lindsay Fletcher and City of Newcastle councillor John Mackenzie at Travelodge Newcastle. 

The Joint Regional Planning Panel approved concept plans for the four-stage development in December 2017, including about 563 units and parking for 553 vehicles.

The new buildings in stage two will have underground parking, retail and office space on ground and mezzanine levels and apartments above. The ornate Lyrique Theatre facade will stand at the entrance to the new “Lyrique Lane” connecting Wolfe and Thorn streets.

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This story Works begin on units incorporating an old theatre and masonic hall first appeared on Newcastle Herald.