Heritage Newcastle Station under threat – Media release 26/12/2014

Save Our Rail has won a Supreme Court Order which stops the removal of rail tracks and other infrastructure. There will be an appeal and The Order did not prevent the stoppage of services on the line.

SOR is now very concerned about the future of heritage Newcastle Station, considering documentation indicating it is to lose its heritage status.

At the Supreme Court we were provided access to a newly produced document, Wickham Interchange Residual Management Plan Dec 2014, a quotation from which follows:

1.5 THE PROPOSAL

……As a result of the truncation, the line and easternmost railway stations on the line, being Wickham, Civic and Newcastle Stations, will no longer be in operation. It is therefore proposed to decommission each of these stations, and subsequently remove them from the Railcorp s170 Heritage and Conservation Register.

The document produced for HDC which will shortly be the new owner of the rail line indicates the process of removal from the heritage listing could occur soon. It states:

Written notification to the heritage Council of NSW is required 14 days prior to an item being removed from the s17o Register, when major alteration to a s170 listed asset occurs or Sydney Trains is planning to decommission a s 170 listed asset.

Joan Dawson, SOR President said, “Considering the underhand method used by the State Government to attempt to avoid the Transport Administration Act 99A by transferring ownership of the rail line to Hunter Development Corporation and thereby pretending it would come under the Growth Centres Act so that they could rip up the line, I think this is another piece of skulduggery designed to allow the demolition of important Newcastle heritage items at the behest of developers.”

In a wider perspective can these “devices” be used to allow the removal of heritage listed items anywhere in the state of NSW? Can “ownership” or “disposition” of public lands be a means to by-passing legal requirements?   The newly changed SEPP provisions are of concern in this context, especially since the land the rail line occupies is not undermined and could support tall buildings.

Will HDC use this process to free up the land so it can replace Newcastle Station with massive buildings as depicted in a 2009 GPT graphic? [reproduced here on SOR website]

SOR demands that the NSW Government begin to operate in a more transparent way with the community being made aware of what is going on. The revelation of hidden documents and sleazy deals involving “ownership” of public property seem to infer that the ICAC has not yet discovered the full extent of corruption affecting Newcastle.

Joan Dawson,
President, Save Our Rail NSW Inc.