Newcastle, New South Wales
Like many other industrial and post-industrial cities around the world, Newcastle NSW has utilised the demise of heavy industry and associated transport networks to repurpose spaces in the urban core. As it looks forward to the middle of the 21st century, the City Council has laid out visionary plans to redefine the spatial design of the central area of the city, shifting the locus westward from the Civic Precinct to form a central business district at the new West End Precinct.
The catalyst for this re-arrangement of the centre of Newcastle has been the long-held desire to remove the railway line that ran along the peninsula separating the core from the waterfront. It has been replaced with a street-based light-rail system connecting to the wider rail network at a new transport interchange in Wickham beyond the West End Precinct. It is ambitious plan that will add additional precincts to the east and west as part of a polycentric structure.
This dynamic reinvention and repurposing of the city centre represents a realisation that past, smaller scale initiatives have failed to reverse the suburbanisation processes. The continued reliance on car travel supported by dispersed and neighbourhood based services across the urban region is at odds with the desire to be more environmentally sustainable as a city and to have a clear identifiable hub accessible more equitably to all.
This case study reinforces how achieving such city centre planning is difficult when the authority and financial clout of the local state is limited. Despite the vision of a new future city centre, investment is reliant on private sector involvement and support from State and Federal government. The recent reformation of city centre business improvement association to promote the area is a key step in advancing the necessary levels of support locally.
City centre transformation
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