Council pushes light rail extension

31 July 2017

The case for extending light rail beyond Newcastle's CBD will be strengthened this week when the state agency responsible for the redevelopment of Broadmeadow's Hunter Sports and Entertainment Precinct meets with Newcastle City Council.

Council will start discussions with Venues NSW Thursday on the draft concept plan for Broadmeadow, which includes McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle International Hockey Centre, the Newcastle Harness Racing Track and the Newcastle Entertainment Centre and Showground.

Council has updated its Connecting Newcastle prospectus ahead of the talks to support the extension of the city's initial 2.7km light rail route to other destinations including the Broadmeadow precinct first up.

Glendale, the University, John Hunter Hospital and Mayfield are among other proposed destinations to be added at a later date.

With the State Government commitment to overhaul Broadmeadow, Council will push for the light rail's extension there from Wickham as a key part of the redeveloped 63-hectare site.

“With a seamlessly connected public transport network, Broadmeadow can fulfil its selection as one of the region’s strategic centres," Mr Bath said.

“It’s crucial that we don’t make the same planning mistakes made at Homebush, where sporting venues have been built in isolation and where the only realistic way of moving from one site to the next is to get in your car and drive.

“Equally important to the overhaul of Broadmeadow is ensuring it links light rail with the Newcastle CBD."

Newcastle Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes said Venues NSW’s decision to engage with Council at the start of planning was testament to the strong relationship between the parties.

“I applaud Venues NSW’s recognition that Council has a crucial role to play in not just the planning overhaul of Broadmeadow but in the potential operation of some of the sporting sites that will exist," Councillor Nelmes said. "We need to ensure that sufficient recreational open space is reserved for the public just as it has been in the Newcastle CBD.

“Linking light rail in the CBD with Broadmeadow as well as the University and other key strategic locations will help ensure Broadmeadow is activated seven days a week.

“Once the Government and Council have identified how light rail, as well as cycleways and bus services seamlessly connect, the work of securing transport corridors can quickly commence. With so much development going on in the CBD and Hamilton, we don’t have a lot of time before our hand is forced in terms of what we can and cannot do with light rail."

The Connecting Newcastle update follows last month's council resolution to lead a working party to deliver the extended network with relevant state agencies -- Hunter Development Corporation, the Department of Planning and Environment, UrbanGrowth NSW, Roads and Maritime Services, Transport for NSW, Keolis Downer -- and the Newcastle and Hunter communities.

Download Connecting Newcastle - 2017 Update: An expanded light rail network