Government must restore height limits to historic East End

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Shadow Minister for Planning Penny Sharpe and Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp today joined residents concerned about 17 storey towers proposed for Newcastle’s East End to call on the Baird Government to lower height limits in the area to comply with the 2012 Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy.

“The historic East End of Newcastle deserves the nothing but the best of urban design - design that revitalises the city and showcases the unique heritage of the City of Newcastle,” Ms Sharpe said.

In 2012, the Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy set a course for revitalisation of the East End by stating that building heights should be between 20 and 27 metres. These limits were overturned by the former Liberal Planning Minister in July 2014.

“The decision to scrap these limits and increase the height limits at the site from 20m to 65m was a gross departure from the Urban Renewal Strategy,” Ms Sharpe said.

“If the proposed 17 storey towers go ahead, these structures will fundamentally change the character of this part of Newcastle.

“There is still time to get it right. The Memorandum of Understanding between Newcastle Council and Urban Growth NSW allows for dialogue in relation to this and other matters associated with the revitalisation of Newcastle.”

In September 2014 the NSW Legislative Council established the Select Committee on the Planning Process and the Broader Hunter region, chaired by the Hon the Rev Fred Nile. The committee brought down its findings on 5 March 2015.

The Committee recommended:

That the Minister for Planning and Environment amend height controls specified in the State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (Newcastle City Centre) 2014 by lowering the maximum permitted height of buildings within the East End precinct to 27 metres.

“The Baird Government has the opportunity with a new planning Minister to follow the recommendation of the Reverend Nile’s Committee in relation to height limits," Ms Sharpe said.

Labor Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said the Committee was scathing about planning processes in Newcastle.

“Through the inquiry, community groups, concerned citizens and others raised concerns about heritage, character, conflict of interest and the inappropriate nature of high rise in the East End of Newcastle,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

“The committee heard the community and made the sensible recommendation to reduce building heights to those originally proposed.

“Lowering building heights allows for revitalisation and preservation of our heritage.

“The time to act for the Baird Liberal Government is now. High rise is appropriate in some places but it is not appropriate for this part of the city.”