What’s driving urban renewal in Newcastle?
A quick drive around Newcastle’s Central Business District (CBD) shows the city undergoing a transformation – new apartment buildings and public transport, cafes, restaurants, pubs and modernisation of older buildings in and around the CBD.
So what’s driving this remarkable renaissance in Australia’s fabled steel city?
Having recently completed a population forecast for the City of Newcastle, I’ve written this blog to share the behind-the-scenes work that is driving urban renewal across the City.
More specifically, I examine
- policies used to achieve development;
- types of new infrastructure investment; and
- the forecast distribution of Newcastle’s population growth (at the small area level for the period 2016-2041).
As a result of long-term strategic planning work, Newcastle is a future-facing City. Residential development sites have been strategically zoned along renewal corridors containing large shares of commercial land, so that approximately one-quarter of identified residential capacity (2016-2041) is located in just 1% of the City of Newcastle’s land area.
Furthermore, by selecting corridors close to existing transport infrastructure, the City has made a strong case for additional investment in these services. When finished, these major projects will help transport, employ and service the additional 40,000-odd people forecast to call Newcastle home by 2041.
About the City of Newcastle
Located in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales the City of Newcastle is 167km driving distance north of Sydney (approximately 2 hours by car). The City of Newcastle is comprised of 30 small areas, the CBD and built up areas is located in Newcastle – Newcastle East- Newcastle West surrounded by Newcastle Harbour (see Map 1). New greenfield estates are situated in the south-west corner of the council area (i.e. Fletcher – Minmi and Elermore Vale – Rankin Park).
As at 2017, the City of Newcastle council area had an estimated resident population of 162,437 persons, while the Newcastle-Maitland Significant Urban Area (which includes surrounding local government areas) had a population of 481,183 (the seventh largest urban area in Australia).
Over the last ten years (2006-2016) the City of Newcastle has averaged an annual population growth rate of 0.9 per cent/annum, which is below the 1.4 per cent annual growth rate recorded across New South Wales over the same period.
Traditionally a manufacturing centre (producing steel and related manufactures) and home to the Port of Newcastle – Australia’s largest coal exporting port (by tonnage), the City of Newcastle has diversified since the closure of Broken Hill Propriety Limited (BHP) Steel Mill in 1999.
Reliance on heavy industry has been reduced with the development of more “service/knowledge-oriented” industries (e.g. education, health/aged care, accommodation and food services, retail, etc.).
More recently, the City of Newcastle has also undergone urban renewal through new residential and commercial developments and building refurbishments in Newcastle’s CBD and inner-city suburbs attracting more people to the CBD. Additional population growth has been supported with new infrastructure (e.g. light rail service, due for completion in 2019), transport interchange at Wickham and various upgrades of Hunter Street Mall and public spaces.
Policies driving urban renewal
Urban renewal in Newcastle’s CBD and inner suburbs originates from policies aimed at attracting more persons to the CBD and concentrating future residential development along major transport corridors.
New residential development would reduce urban sprawl, improve transport efficiency/viability and access to jobs/services, with the goal of having 95 per cent of persons living “no more” than 30 minutes from a major centre (the oft-cited measure of a smart city).
To concentrate development, five renewal corridors along major transport routes were identified and re-zoned for high-density residential development (approximately 50-75 persons/hectare) (land was set aside as far back as 2002). Further sites in Wickham and around the CBD were also identified for redevelopment.
Renewal corridors and redevelopment areas contain approximately 26 per cent of the City of Newcastle’s identified residential capacity but comprise just 1 per cent of the Council’s total land area – in other words, these are concentrated residential growth areas (see Table 1). Newcastle’s CBD comprises the largest share – containing 12.1 per cent of available residential capacity.
Table 1 – maximising dwelling capacity in renewal corridors
|Renewal corridors and redevelopment areas||Additional dwellings planned for renewal corridors/redevelopment areas||Area of renewal corridors/redevelopment areas|
|No.||Share of total (%)||Area (hectares)||Share of total (%)|
|Mayfield renewal corridor – Maitland Road||960||4.4||35||0.2|
|Islington renewal corridor – Pacific Highway||150||0.7||7||0.04|
|Broadmeadow renewal corridor – Lambton Road, Belford and Tudor Streets||230||1.1||49||0.3|
|Hamilton renewal corridor – Tudor Street||230||1.1||9||0.0|
|Adamstown renewal corridor – Brunker Road||750||3.4||21||0.1|
|Wickham redevelopment area – Hannel Street and Stewart Avenue||630||2.9||31||0.2|
|Newcastle CBD – various sites throughout city||2,646||12.1||29||0.2|
|Rest of City of Newcastle||16,293||74.4||18,505||99.0|
|All renewal corridors/redevelopment areas||5,596||25.6||182||1.0|
|Total City of Newcastle||21,889||100.0||18,687||100.0|
Source: Newcastle Development Control Plans 2012, Local Planning Strategy Background Report, Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan 2036, .id Forecast, City of Newcastle, 2018.
Selecting renewal corridors
The selection of renewal corridors and redevelopment areas is based on several factors.
The first is their location. Close to high-frequency transport networks along major arterial roads, which offers the potential for further integration with the CBD (through transport linkages).
The second is future potential for economic growth and/or housing renewal and intensification (Local Planning Strategy – Background Report, p.165).
The areas that have been selected as renewal corridors contain large shares of commercially-zoned land suitable for retail/business development. For example, the Newcastle CBD contains approximately 38 per cent of the City of Newcastle’s commercially zoned land, while the small areas of Broadmeadow and Hamilton contain 9.2 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively.
Investment in infrastructure
Approximately $1 billion has been invested in new infrastructure in renewal corridors and development areas over the past 10 years. This includes $660 million (provided by the New South Wales Government) under the revitalising Newcastle program – to fund the new CBD light rail service, transport interchange, public spaces and make various street upgrades (see Table 2).
Once complete, the light rail service will improve transportation around Newcastle’s CBD and integrate knowledge centres at the John Hunter and Calvary Mater Hospitals and University of Newcastle Research Campus. That is to say – besides providing improved transport around the City, a light rail service can create other economic benefits by linking businesses and institutions (for instance, the hospital with the University).
As part of the revitalisation of major buildings in the CBD, a further $292 million has been invested in a new city campus for the University of Newcastle, law courts and Hunter Medical Research Institute Hub.
Table 2 – Infrastructure investment/upgrades, City of Newcastle, completed/approved in the last 10 years
|Newcastle Transport Interchange Wickham||Public transport hub/interchange and associated works (2017)||$200m|
|Hunter Street light rail||Light rail construction and design improvements (2019)(a)||$310m|
|New public spaces||New public spaces along former heavy rail corridor (no date)||$75m|
|Other upgrades||Wire-free light rail, footpaths, street trees, road intersections (no date)||$75m|
|Total Revitalising Newcastle project||$660m|
|Other major projects/upgrades|
|University of Newcastle||NeW Space Campus, includes library, information centre, learning spaces (2017)||$95m|
|Law Courts||New law court complex (2016)||$94m|
|Hunter Medical Research Institute||Research Hub building (2012)||$90m|
|Total other projects/upgrades||$279m|
|Total infrastructure investment||$939m|
Source: Revitalising Newcastle, Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy 2014, Hunter Regional Plan 2036,
Local Planning Strategy Background Report, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region guide, Chapter 10.
Note: (a) = scheduled completion date for light rail project.
An additional feature of renewal corridors (located along major roads) is their capacity to support future expansion of infrastructure and services, especially transportation.
Light rail services can be extended from the CBD to renewal corridors (for example, from Newcastle Interchange to Broadmeadow Station then Broadmeadow Station to Adamstown).
Other possibilities exist to extend light rail to the John Hunter Hospital, University of Newcastle at Callaghan, Newcastle Airport, Glendale, Merewether and a CBD loop. Concentrating urban development in renewal corridors can also improve the viability/efficiency of bus and taxi services.
Forecasting population growth in the inner-city and outlying suburbs of Newcastle
In May of this year .id prepared population forecasts for the City of Newcastle for the period 2016-2041.
These forecasts use a “bottom up” approach to make various assumptions regarding future residential housing supply and demographic trends (i.e. natural increase and net migration). Using this approach, we forecast The City of Newcastle’s population to increase from 160,919 to 202,049 persons between 2016 and 2041 -see Table 3 below.
This was an overall increase of 41,130 persons, or a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1 per cent/annum for the forecast period.
At the small area level, highest growth is forecast for Newcastle’s CBD (CAGR 2016-2041: 3.9 per cent), referred to in Table 3 as Newcastle – Newcastle East – Newcastle West. This is followed by outlying greenfield sites Fletcher – Minmi (CAGR 2016-2041: 3.3 per cent) and inner-city development area Maryville – Wickham (CAGR 2016-2041: 3 per cent).
Above average population growth is forecast for small areas containing renewal corridor areas of Broadmeadow – Hamilton North, Adamstown and Mayfield – Mayfield East.
When combined, all small areas containing these renewal corridor/redevelopment areas would account for approximately 38 per cent of the City of Newcastle’s forecast population growth from 2016-2041.
Table 3 – Forecast population for City of Newcastle, top 10 small areas, 2016-2041
|Small area||Forecast population||Increase 2016-2041|
|2016||2021||2026||2031||2036||2041||no.||Per cent||CAGR(a)||Share of total|
|Newcastle – Newcastle East – Newcastle West (CBD)||4,567||6,560||7,841||9,087||10,270||11,426||6,860||150.2||3.9||16.7|
|Fletcher – Minmi (contains greenfield site)||6,008||8,259||9,772||11,248||12,429||13,136||7,128||118.6||3.3||17.3|
|Maryville – Wickham (contains redevelopment area)||2,611||3,519||4,416||4,731||4,989||5,249||2,638||101.0||3.0||6.4|
|Broadmeadow – Hamilton North (contains renewal corridor)||2,652||2,863||3,116||3,626||4,153||4,672||2,021||76.2||2.4||4.9|
|Elermore Vale – Rankin Park (contains greenfield site)||7,013||7,815||8,874||9,899||10,911||11,936||4,922||70.2||2.2||12.0|
|Adamstown (contains renewal corridor)||6,261||6,645||7,085||7,547||7,979||8,413||2,152||34.4||1.2||5.2|
|Shortland – Sandgate||4,325||4,656||5,159||5,449||5,492||5,518||1,193||27.6||1.0||2.9|
|Mayfield – Mayfield East (contains renewal corridor)||11,346||11,913||12,574||13,195||13,793||14,357||3,011||26.5||1.0||7.3|
|Rest of City of Newcastle||98,830||101,310||102,895||103,749||104,745||105,854||7,024||7.1||0.3||17.1|
|Small areas containing renewal corridors/redevelopment areas(b)||24,145||28,254||31,771||34,649||37,155||39,619||15,473||64.1||2.1||37.6|
|City of Newcastle||160,919||171,307||180,573||188,000||195,043||202,049||41,130||25.6||1.0||100.0|
Source: .id Forecast, City of Newcastle, 2018
(a) = Compound annual growth rate.
(b) = Renewal corridor areas is comprised of Newcastle – Newcastle East – Newcastle West, Maryville – Wickham, Broadmeadow – Hamilton North, Adamstown, Mayfield – Mayfield East, Islington – Tighes Hill.
The concentration of forecast population growth around Newcastle’s CBD, inner suburbs (where renewal corridors are located) and outlying greenfield areas is highlighted in Map 3 (below).
Areas forecast to have fastest annual growth rates (shaded in darker greens colours) are clustered around the older established areas of Newcastle’s CBD and in outlying greenfield areas.
Source: .id Forecast, City of Newcastle, 2018
In terms of new residential dwellings, .id forecasts an additional 19,872 dwellings will be constructed over the forecast period 2016-2041 (see Table 4).
By small area, Newcastle’s CBD (referred to in Table 4 as Newcastle – Newcastle East – Newcastle West) is forecast to account for approximately 23 per cent of all new residential dwellings, while major greenfield sites of Fletcher – Minmi and Elermore Vale – Rankin Park would account for 12 per cent and 8.6 per cent of new dwellings respectively. Small areas containing renewal corridor/redevelopment areas are forecast to account for just under half (48 per cent) of all new residential development in the City of Newcastle.
Table 4 – Forecast additional dwellings for City of Newcastle, top 10 small areas, 2016-2041
|Small area||Total additional dwellings 2016-2041|
|Number||Share of total|
|Newcastle – Newcastle East – Newcastle West (CBD)||4,467||22.5|
|Fletcher – Minmi (contains greenfield site)||2,376||12.0|
|Elermore Vale – Rankin Park (contains greenfield site)||1,716||8.6|
|Maryville – Wickham (contains redevelopment area)||1,430||7.2|
|Mayfield – Mayfield East (contains renewal corridor)||1,368||6.9|
|Broadmeadow – Hamilton North (contains renewal corridor)||974||4.9|
|Adamstown (contains renewal corridor)||940||4.7|
|Georgetown – Waratah||696||3.5|
|New Lambton – New Lambton Heights||477||2.4|
|Rest of City of Newcastle||4,109||20.7|
|Small areas containing renewal corridors/redevelopment areas(a)||9,493||47.8|
|City of Newcastle||19,872||100|
Source: .id Forecast, City of Newcastle, 2018.
(a) = Renewal corridor areas is comprised of Newcastle – Newcastle East – Newcastle West, Maryville – Wickham, Broadmeadow – Hamilton North, Adamstown, Mayfield – Mayfield East, Islington – Tighes Hill.
Urban renewal and new development in Newcastle’s CBD is the result of a range of policies supporting increased/concentrated population growth, new infrastructure, modernising/upgrading major city buildings, redesigning urban spaces and improving entertainment options through new retail/cafés/restaurants etc.
By encouraging development in renewal corridors and redevelopment areas, decision-makers have utilised existing infrastructure and commercial zones to increase the likelihood of future additional service and infrastructure requirements of residents can be met.
Tell us how your place is changing
In a period of almost unprecedented population growth in Australia, Newcastle certainly isn’t the only place experiencing urban renewal and significant change.
Tell us about your place here – every month, we’ll investigate a story from one of our readers and publish a small study about their place on our blog. Tell us about the changes you’ve seen in your area, and we’ll tell you the demographic and economic story behind it.
Or, investigate for yourself. Head over to our demographic resource centre for free access to demographic profiles, spatial maps, population forecasts and economic profiles for places all over Australia and New Zealand.