See the Newcastle Herald article here – Newcastle rail project: Government on track despite inquiry’s findings

The NSW Government Response to Inquiry on the planning process in Newcastle and the broader Hunter region is a slap in the face to residents of Newcastle and the Hunter who would have reasonably expected the Baird government would implement far greater transparency and less aggressive building heights for the Newcastle ‘urban renewal’ project.

Greens MP and Planning Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The failure by the government to limit the east end building heights is a missed opportunity to restore trust with Newcastle residents.

“The overwhelming balance of submissions, both professional and public, that the committee received said the development was too high and should be reduced to prevent it dominating the heritage streetscape.

“There’s a pattern here of the Baird government refusing to take the best evidence when it comes to Newcastle’s future.

“The obvious conflict of interest, which has Urban Growth and the Department of Planning both reporting to the same minister, doesn’t seem to trouble the Baird government.

“These internal conflicts on development matters greatly trouble the community, and rightly so, and this is a real missed opportunity to provide some integrity in developments being pushed by Urban Growth.

“This inquiry came about due to widespread perception of conflicts of interest and corruption of the planning process in the Hunter region, today’s response fails to respond adequately to this.

“The Greens are committed to continuing to work with the community to provide the best outcome for Newcastle, which includes heavy rail, sensitive development, and democratic decision-making for this State’s second largest city,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Greens MP and Transport Spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi said:

“It is disgusting but not surprising that the NSW Government’s response to the inquiry recommendation that the rail line be reinstated was a total of four sentences.

“The government plans to unilaterally go ahead with the rail line removal despite all the evidence – and a parliamentary inquiry – saying it’s not the right thing to do.

“Last week the Greens exposed that the first usage figures for the rail replacement buses showed that the rail removal was hammering public transport use in Newcastle.

“People are getting back onto the roads, worsening congestion and pollution, and it is entirely the fault of the NSW Government,” she concluded.