New Newcastle

What could (and should) our new city look like?

Wednesday October 14th 2015 6pm

South Newcastle Leagues Club, Merewether  

The next public forum hosted by the Newcastle Institute will be a special event welcoming Professor SueAnne Ware, the recently appointed Head of the School of Architecture at University of Newcastle. The public forum and discussion will focus on the various possibilities for the future development – and redevelopment – of our city.

She will be joined by:-

  • Ben Hewitt, Director of Strategic Planning, NSW Government Architect’s Office;
  • Glen Spicer: Architect, Director of EJE Architecture, member of Newcastle City Council, Newcastle Urban Design Consultative Group;
  • Chris Tucker, an eminent urban design practitioner; and
  • David Crofts, Principal, Strategy Hunter Consultants, and Board member of Newcastle Now

Professor Ware has a background as a landscape architect, and describes herself as a ‘design activist’. As landscapes are often in public spaces, she believes that landscape architects share a responsibility for setting the political, social and environmental agenda. After a notable career in the USA, New Zealand and Melbourne, she is excited to have come to Newcastle at a time of great change and in the built environment.

The panel bring a range of opinions about urban development, and but all are excited about the potential for innovation in both buildings themselves (such as the new Law Courts and the University city campus), but also the chance to imagine major redesign of our public spaces. Some of these ideas will be generally acclaimed, but others, inevitably, will be controversial.

The forum will include short presentations by the speakers, and then a panel discussion involving the public. It will be an exciting evening.

As always, this forum aims to explore the issues and hear from all perspectives. The Newcastle Institute does not take a position on any issue, but fosters sharing of opinions in a respectful, considered way to achieve the best outcomes for the community.


VENUE: Souths Newcastle Leagues Club, Llewellyn Street Merewether.

DATE: Wednesday 14th October 2015

TIME: 6.00 till 7.30pm

ADMISSION: $5 Donation



2 Responses

  1. I appreciate the scope of the Institute’s 2015 varied coverage of Newcastle’s urban issues, including its artery, the Intercity Railway; and including its essential heritage aspects.
    In any discussions of the ‘new and exciting’ these two aspects need to remain central.
    “Excitement” is not unique to planners, a feeling to be whipped up in voters. Genuine excitement is what we inlanders used to feel, boarding at 60 stations not counting Sydney, along 400 km of track, when they anticipated a day in, and on the sea edge of Newcastle. We don’t bother any more.
    It is what Tourists used to anticipate, having heard about the world class approach to the view of Nobbys on the horizon, framed by magnificent pines, as the train pulls in to the amazing Newcastle Station and Customs House. The world cannot match this. Or it could not, when it was working.

    “Excitement” is what people show when they hear of the element which would indeed lift this into top world class urban design: the City Square within the existing, working Newcastle Station. Now, it has only a tiny, cramped concourse space, and no proper ticket controls. It has been run down, its life-changing luggage store never advertised, its facilities and staff morale neglected to the point of decay.
    This was deliberate, and wrong. We now see tourism, business and transport use collapsing as predicted. Some folk still believe the guff that a tiny tram will make it just great.

    It would be indeed exciting if Planners including those from the Government and UG became brave enough to take on theimprovement of the working Newcastle, instead of reviving its dead body. Brave enough to face up to what they have done wrong, and to reverse it with moral strength.

    The City Square concept entails simply paving over the tracks for about 130 metres, keeping the great shelter sheds, changing very little except to refurbish and reuse the heritage station and structures for railway and commercial uses around the Square. This allows proper ticket controls, top class amenities and refreshments, sale of beach wares, Information etc. It would be open day and night, a secure refuge and lively heart as the Station was until Christmas. The area would be lit by reflected light off the Customs House in the darkest hours.

    Once again we could visit Newcastle with joy, spend our money there, get to appointments, see elders and impaired folks walk or wheel across for a day by the water. Currently, all those experiences are dead, and with them, the preventative health facilities given freely by nature, for the sickest valleys in the State. Urban design is not smoke and mirrors shown us by Govt and UG etc. It is real life.

  2. What an unfortunate title for the forum –“New Newcastle”. Newcastle is 200 years old, so we can never be “new “. This feeds into the idea that we can be a blank canvas which is a really bad way to plan. Every site has a history — through its geography or built environment or both. The best urban environments are those where the stories of a place are visible, layered and easily understood.

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