With a range of successful projects and initiatives under our belts or in progress over the past year, Novocastrians can look back on 2017 with pride in our city and high expectations for the future.
We are becoming known as a destination city and a host city for major events. Just at the end of November we hosted our first Newcastle 500, the culminating race in the Supercars 2017 season, drawing 192,000 people to the city centre to watch the event over three days.
Aerial shot of the inaugural Newcastle 500.
Capitalising on the city's optimism following our Supercars success and the start of the summer event season, we have launched a Dream Big Newy campaign, taking a uniquely "Newy" spin on the classic London/Paris/Rome/Madrid/New York motif seen on hats and shirts across the globe.
It's designed to promote the fact that Newcastle is a city with a sense of fun, but that there is also a great sense of pride among the people who live here. All of this is a catalyst for people to think about the bigger picture for Newcastle.
We have seen dramatic change in the makeup of our city this year. Cranes, construction sites and new buildings are a testament to the record number of development applications that have been approved in 2017, on track for $1.5 billion. In 2016/17 we topped $1 billion for the first time ever in a 12 month period and Newcastle's building boom shows no signs of slowing down.
In addition to this unprecedented growth, the light rail system is set to catalyse urban renewal of the city centre and the soon-to-be-built cruise ship terminal will usher in growing waves of international tourists eager to see all we have to offer.
We have developed a grand plan to make Wickham a residential, commercial and transport hub and are delivering neighbourhood improvements and suburb-specific master - and public domain plans at Stockton, Beresfield, Wallsend and Merewether.
That's not to mention our Smart City Strategy, which will carry us into a new era of connected technology and digital interaction, with high-speed internet connections and smart infrastructure within our city's future digital precinct as well as an innovation hub to promote research, entrepreneurship and economic development. In this regard we are absolutely at the front of the pack of Australian cities and towns.
The Newy campaign's comparison to landmark international cities is less far-fetched than it was just a few years ago. In Newcastle, we are daring to dream big and to undertake projects to make our city a better place for everyone.