Stick to the Plan

The state member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp MP, decreed last week that any new masterplan for 63-hectares of land at Broadmeadow should exclude new housing. In doing so, he chose to bypass the Hunter Regional Plan 2036 and Labor’s pledge to tackle the housing affordability crisis. He also chose to ignore the two fundamental forces which drive local market conditions; chronic supply-side constraints and demand for density.

There is also the unanswered question of how Labor would fund construction of a “world-class sporting precinct” at Broadmeadow. While the ambition is noble, the promise is hollow without developer contributions to help fund the infrastructure.  By ruling out some portion of this huge parcel of land being devoted to new housing, the entire financial burden of redeveloping the site was shifted to taxpayers. Yet cities the world-over have proven the only way to achieve sustainability for this type of community infrastructure is as part of a precinct with mixed uses and a resident population.

But I digress. Let’s get back to basics. The Hunter Regional Plan 2036 is a 20-year vision for strategic land use planning. It was developed over several years with expert advice and involved extensive consultation with the community, local governments across the region and business. It clearly identifies Broadmeadow’s central role in Newcastle’s future as a vibrant metropolitan centre with increased residential density.

Putting the kybosh on new housing at Broadmeadow also flies in the face of opposition plans to increase housing supply. Labor leader Luke Foley recently announced a government he led would require 25 per cent of new properties built on government land to be set aside as affordable housing for low-to-middle income earners. He said the mandated targets were essential because housing affordability had reached crisis levels. Days later, Broadmeadow was excised from party policy.

But perhaps the strongest force for change will be the tide of global consumer demand for transit-oriented communities (TOCs) – a type of community development that maximizes the amount of residential, business and leisure space within walking distance of a central transit stop.

By connecting people and amenities through improved access to public transit, TOCs reduce car dependency and greenhouse gas emissions; promote walkable and bikeable communities that accommodate more healthy and active lifestyles; increase transit ridership and revenue for transit operators; improve access to jobs and economic opportunities; and create more opportunities for mobility.

Broadmeadow can be this model of sustainable community development. It can have leisure, entertainment and sporting facilities at its heart, with public transport as its spine. The key to delivering on all this potential will be attracting a mixture of housing, office, retail and other amenities to the precinct.

Let’s stick to the plan.

Media contact:  Andrew Fletcher | M  0407 410 017  E  [email protected]