Why would they close Newcastle Rail Line?
To get the land and the “prize” is Newcastle Station. The rail corridor has the most development value of any land in Newcastle. It is almost the only land in the city not undermined by old coal mines. This means:
- Mine Subsidence Board approval would not be an issue.
- It is not restricted by Mine Subsidence Board building height limits.
- The cost of grouting disused mine shafts is huge and runs into millions of dollars and can be as costly as the proposed building itself.
- Undermined sites, even when stabilised, cannot support excessively tall buildings.
- The rail corridor, which is quite wide around Newcastle Station including the bus layover (110 metres), can support an unlimited building height. This is of concern in light of proposals to amend the height restrictions in the LEP and SEPP.
- A developer’s dream (2008 GPT website) showed 6 bulky high rise buildings over Newcastle Station, incorporating Wharf Road and existing parkland beyond Queen’s Wharf. This proposal occupied approximately 15,000 square metres of what is currently publicly owned property.
Mine Subsidence Board maps (PDF): http://www.minesub.nsw.gov.au/templates/mine_subsidence_board_maps.aspx?edit=false&pageID=22189
Images from GPT’s 2008 cut-the-line proposal: http://saveourrail.org.au/?p=193
Regarding the mine subsidence map above, note that the rail line itself (unshaded) is not undermined according to this newspaper report: “The maps showed that almost all of the CBD was undermined to varying degrees, the major exceptions being a thin strip under the Newcastle rail line and a parcel of land around Wickham.” Quoted from From Newcastle Herald article 29/10/2013, “Ex-mining sites sink affordable development in Newcastle CBD” by Ian Kirkwood.