UrbanGrowth agency examines rail land potential

State-owned development agency UrbanGrowth has admitted it is looking into a ‘‘number of uses’’ for the city’s rail corridor land and ways of ‘‘activating’’ the area around the existing Newcastle railway station through redevelopment, as reported in the Newcastle Herald. ‘‘We will be undertaking some work to understand what those opportunities may be and actually ...

IMPORTANT: HDC’s own figures show that keeping the rail is the economically superior option

IMPORTANT: HDC's own figures show that keeping the rail is the economically superior option
Hunter Development Corporation’s 2009 Cost Benefit Analysis was flawed and misleading, as demonstrated in SOR’s response to HDC report (pages 19-21), as copied below. [SOR update 24/11/2014: The Newcastle Herald reported that University of Newcastle representatives Nat McGregor (chief operating officer) told the Parliamentary Inqury that the rail line “never came into the business case” ...

Hawes’s firm prepared rail cut report instrumental in rail cut decision

As reported in the Maitland Mercury, Bob Hawes was one of two directors of a company in 2009 that Hunter Development Corporation paid almost $50,000 to prepare a report for the state government, which recommended the removal of the Newcastle heavy rail line at Wickham. This was before he became HDC general manager. Mr Hawes ...

Don’t cut rail and run

Ian Kirkwood writes about the Newcastle rail line and parliamentary inquiry in this piece in the Newcastle Herald. … Now, with Labor back in power in Newcastle, the rail issue is again political dynamite and I will not be surprised if Premier Mike Baird pulls the pin on his government’s decision in the coming days. ...

Push to sink the rail line

At a time when the Premier Mike Baird has stopped short of ruling out delaying Newcastle’s rail line truncation, debate is continuing around sinking the line, reports ABC News Newcastle. Mr Baird has told a parliamentary planning inquiry delaying the rail decision would cost $220,000 a week. The inquiry has also been told that sinking ...

Inquiry on the planning process in Newcastle and the Hunter region hearing #2

Here are some highlights of the second hearing of the Inquiry into the Planning Process in Newcastle and the Hunter Region, as reported on the Newcastle Herald’s live blog. University of Newcastle representatives Nat McGregor (chief operating officer) … tells Labor’s Lynda Voltz the university has no position in the rail line debate and is ...

Newcastle rail line: Government keeps reports secret

A string of key reports underpinning plans to cut Newcastle’s heavy rail line and install light rail are being kept under wraps, as reported in the Newcastle Herald. The government was supposed to produce about a dozen reports relating to various aspects of the major project, including a cost-benefit analysis, in line with an order ...

City campus savaged on parking

[SOR comment: Wickham terminus is predicted to lose 23% of current patronage by Government’s own underestimated figures. Keeping rail would reduce pressure on already limited CBD parking.] THE Roads and Maritime Service has savaged the University of Newcastle’s proposed city campus, saying the plan has failed to properly assess traffic conditions in the city’s central ...

HDC chief and a $30 million rail conflict

An application has been approved to build a block of units worth about $60 million on land near the Wickham rail corridor, part-owned by Hunter Development Corporation general manager Bob Hawes, reports the Maitland Mercury. Newcastle City Council received the DA to build the nine-storey unit block in Beresford Street in 2009. The street runs parallel ...

Government approves own plans for Wickham “carport on steroids” (a.k.a. terminus)

The Newcastle Herald reports that the state government has approved its own plans for a new transport interchange at Wickham but has promised to reconsider the design, after a barrage of criticisms of an artist’s impression image of the project. … About 280 submissions were made. Many were critical of the idea of cutting the ...

City’s future plotted by ‘shadow government’

The Newcastle Herald reports that, according to newly released documents, a ‘‘Master Planning Group’’ composed of developers, property investors, elected representatives and public servants held meetings to plot the future of Newcastle. The documents appear to show that members of the group included then lord mayor Jeff McCloy, city general manager Ken Gouldthorp, Hunter Development ...

Hawes was instrumental in giving $60m to govt to investigate rail cut

The Maitland Mercury reports that a public servant at the centre of a conflict of interest allegation over the Newcastle rail cut was on a board that gave the state government $60 million to help make its decision. Hunter Development Corporation general manager Bob Hawes was a member of the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund ...

NSW Government refuses to release Newcastle rail cost benefit papers

Greens NSW MP and Transport spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has questioned what is the Government hiding after it appears to be hiding documents relating to the truncation of the Newcastle Rail line. The NSW Parliament last month passed Dr Faruqi’s motion demanding the release of a range of papers, the vast majority of which ...

HDC chief denies conflict of interest in rail cut decision

An article and online poll in the Maitland Mercury regarding the GM of HDC: The head of a state government agency advocating the removal of Newcastle rail line has denied having a conflict of interest, despite telling a parliamentary inquiry that he partially owns properties near the future Wickham transport interchange. Hunter Development Corporation general ...

Cost too high for Newcastle light rail? Is that why they won’t tell? – Media release 10/11/2014

Sydney’s light rail cost has blown out by $600million. Could this be related to the reason the cost /benefit analysis for the Newcastle light rail proposal has not been provided in the call for papers at the time of the Upper House Inquiry into local planning? Mr Hazzard had stated in a radio interview in ...

Rail hearing told survey was flawed

As reported in the Maitland Mercury, advocates for retaining the train line between Wickham and Newcastle have had their say to the committee set up to investigate recent planning decisions in the Hunter. … Save Our Rail vice-president Kim Cross was one of the witnesses who fronted the inquiry in the afternoon to give the ...

Land sale advice conflicts

The Newcastle Herald reports that state-owned development authority UrbanGrowth NSW has drawn up a plan for the city centre’s renewal and use of the soon to be vacant rail corridor land to go to a Cabinet committee, while asking for the community’s views on the issues. Documents tabled to NSW Parliament show the “urban renewal ...

The corridor of powers

Greg Ray is on the money with his article “the corridor of powers” (apart from the bit about liking the idea of cutting the rail at Civic). FIRST they said they wanted to cut the rail line to connect the eastern part of the city with the harbour. … Then it was maybe Woodville Junction ...

UrbanGrowth urges NSW government to allow development on Newcastle rail corridor

The Newcastle Herald reports that state development authority UrbanGrowth is urging the government to permit development on at least part of the Newcastle rail corridor that will be left vacant after the heavy rail is truncated, sources say. With the heavy rail between Newcastle and Wickham set to be permanently closed on December 26, the ...

SOR wins by-elections – Media release 29/10/2014

Candidates get on the right track! Save Our Rail claims victory in the by-elections for the seats of Newcastle and Charlestown! We didn’t need to support candidates in the election – in fact we don’t do that ever – because we have members from all sides of politics. However, because the threat of rail closure ...