Monday 21st Oct, 2019

REF paper out for planned Newcastle bus interchange

Newcastle interchange REF. Graphic: NSW Government

The NSW Government has released planning documents to the public for the new Newcastle Bus Interchange at Wickham, construction of which is expected to begin next year.

The report, Newcastle Bus Interchange Review of Environmental Factors (REF) outlines the plans for the bus facilities and passenger drop-off areas that are to be built adjacent to the Newcastle Interchange, on a site now occupied by the former Newcastle and Suburban Co-Operative Society store building.

According to Michael Cassel, Revitalising Newcastle Program Director, the store building was acquired by the NSW government in 2015 after the area’s potential for transport development was identified.

“Integrating seamlessly with the adjacent Newcastle Interchange, the bus interchange would enhance connectivity between trains, light rail, buses, taxis, private vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians,” Mr Cassel said.

The bus interchange proposal is part of the government’s $500 million Revitalising Newcastle program, which stated aim is to improve connections between the city and the waterfront, open more public spaces, provide opportunities for job-creation, and deliver better transport options.

The REF report states that the new bus interchange will improve connectivity between heavy rail, light rail, bus platforms and pedestrian access between the station concourse, the interchange, and Hunter Street and Stewart Avenue.

To make way for the proposed development, the old Newcastle and Suburban Co-Operative Society building and carpark will have to be removed.

“Unfortunately, the buildings are in poor condition and pose a safety hazard for the community,” Mr Cassel said.

“Temporary hoarding is in place to protect the public from the risk of falling debris from the building façade, and controlled removal of the materials by accredited contractors will ensure the future safety of the site.”

Co-Operative Society Store operated at the site between 1898 and 1981. Cassel said that the government was aware of the building’s historical significance for the local community.

“We will ensure the history of the site is respected in whatever comes next – a heritage interpretation plan will be developed and all heritage items will be appropriately recorded and documented.”

The REF assessment only pertains to the bus interchange development. However, the NSW government announced in April that it was gauging private sector interest in building the new interchange in addition to a suite of developments around the site.

Cassel said that work was still ongoing to “identify those parties that can best deliver this key piece of infrastructure as part of a broader development on the site,” while adding that a “separate planning process is required to develop the site any further”.

Now available to the public, the REF report can be accessed online [click here for PDF link] and feedback can be made at community information sessions and in writing by email or post before August 18.

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