Alternative plan for Newcastle
Story and photo
by Stephen O'Brien
NEWCASTLE — "Don't bulldoze what is unique", appealed community activist Doug Lithgow at the launch of the "Old Newcastle" strategy in the city's historic East End on August 7.
The unique cultural and archaeological heritage of Newcastle lies under the threat of the developer's bulldozer. Lithgow claimed that the city council, dominated by an ALP and Citizens' Group alliance, had seen the November 1989 earthquake as a godsend.
As a result of it, the sites of many buildings of architectural significance are now vacant blocks awaiting "development". The Royal Newcastle Hospital's future is under a cloud, and the council presses on with its plan to rip up the railway line into Newcastle station.
The Old Newcastle alternative strategy outlines a mix of residential, heritage and commercial development for the eastern end of the city. It is based on ideas such as retaining the railway, recycling old buildings for shop-top housing and developing archaeological sites in the East End.
The plan was drawn up by a committee drawn from community organisations. East End Residents Group representative Judith Gatland spoke of the need for community representation on planning bodies. The launch, attended by 60 people, was appropriately held at the View Factory, a successful restaurant and art gallery situated in what was until recently a derelict brewery. n