‘Mixed messages’ on CBD plan

Artist impressions of concept options released by UrbanGrowth for community engagement. Pic: UrbanGrowth NSWPOLL: UrbanGrowth reveals rail corridor concepts

A NEWCASTLE residents’ group says state government agencies are giving mixed messages on the detail of the city’s redevelopment and light rail project after a briefing from the UrbanGrowth agency.

The Newcastle Inner City Residents Alliance had a briefing earlier this month from UrbanGrowth project director Michael Casell, in which various aspects of the redevelopment were discussed.

NICRA spokesman Brian Ladd said the briefing was on the new ‘‘engagement plan’’ by UrbanGrowth, which the agency unveiled on Monday.

During the briefing, Mr Cassell was asked about the positioning of the light rail line, after the latest government artwork of the Wickham interchange showed it running on Beresford Lane, which runs parallel to the railway on the Hunter Street side of the tracks.

At the meeting, Mr Cassell told NICRA the rail would ‘‘definitely not’’ be running on Beresfield Street and would be on the main heavy rail corridor.

Contacted by the Newcastle Herald, a spokesperson for UrbanGrowth confirmed NICRA’s account of the exchange but operational details of the light rail were a matter for Transport For NSW, not Urban Growth.

In turn, Transport for NSW said in a statement that: ‘‘Design of the light rail alignment is being further developed.

‘‘The preferred route and stop locations will form part of the environmental assessment process and the community will have a chance to provide further feedback later this year.”

Mr Ladd said the community needed ‘‘consistency and honesty’’ from the government and it ‘‘sews the seeds of doubt when you get such conflicting viewpoints’’.

He said it was hard when one agency said one thing, and another agency said something entirely different.

Newcastle Greens councillor Therese Doyle said she was also concerned about the uncertainty over the light rail route because Beresford Lanewas owned by Newcastle City Council.

Cr Doyle said she had lodged a formal question asking for details of any discussions or negotiations on the sale or transfer of Beresford Laneto the government.

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