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Broadmeadow loco depot should be part of Hunter Park plan: councillor

POTENTIAL: An aerial view of the old Broadmeadow locomotive depot.

The old Broadmeadow locomotive depot should be part of planning for the nearby Hunter Park sports and entertainment precinct, a Newcastle councillor says.

Greens councillor John Mackenzie has called for the NSW government to include the 18-hectare site, which was once the second-largest rail depot in NSW but has largely been abandoned since it closed in 1994, in its investigations for the Hunter Park redevelopment project.

Hunter Park is a 60-odd hectare site which includes the showground, stadium and surrounding lands that the government has developed a master plan for.

The area, which has been earmarked to accommodate new homes, sports facilities and a mix of enterprises, is only a few hundred metres away from the rail depot.

The depot land includes a heritage-listed railway precinct that makes up about a third of the site, while the rest is mostly grassland abutting homes on Kings Road.

Cr Mackenzie said the depot was "practically next door" to Hunter Park and should be part of those plans.

"This is a site of magnificent rail heritage and extraordinary potential for public benefit uses that would directly complement the state government's plans for Hunter Park," he said.

"The depot site presents an opportunity ... to provide a range of community facilities, including educational, heritage and tourism experiences, in a well-serviced, central location with quality public transport access.

"This potential would only be enhanced by ensuring it is planned and developed in conjunction with the neighbouring sports and entertainment precinct."

Former University of Newcastle lecturer Dr Bernard Curran was among a group pushing for new life to be breathed into the site before he passed away last year.

Cr Mackenzie said one view Dr Curran had was for the depot to become an industrial heritage precinct.

"Creative and adaptive reuse of the site could incorporate and showcase not just our rail heritage, but also the maritime and industrial history of Newcastle and the Hunter," he said.

"Industrial heritage tourism is an emerging global trend, and there are few cities in Australia with a rich and storied history like Newcastle."

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The rolling stock at the rail depot is slowly being removed as part of a plan to store most of the state's heritage railway assets in Sydney.

Transport for NSW said in a statement the Broadmeadow depot was part of its own renewed investigation into how to best make use of disused urban railway sites.

"Any potential future use for the Broadmeadow site is currently being reviewed ... as part of a broader strategy to repurpose existing sites," it said.

"Transport for NSW is exploring options for the [depot] in the context of medium to long-term plans developed by the NSW government and City of Newcastle."

The council is preparing, a spokesman said, a "place strategy" for much of the suburb of Broadmeadow to "guide the delivery of improved open space, infrastructure, transport and new land uses in the precinct surrounding Hunter Park".

The draft strategy will be unveiled later this year.

However Cr Mackenzie said Transport for NSW and the agencies behind Hunter Park - Venues NSW and the Hunter Development Corporation, should consider if the depot can be merged into that planning process.

"I would like some confirmation that the two state government agencies are at least talking with one another, and ideally working collaboratively to maximise the opportunities of the precinct as a whole," he said.

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