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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Sage Swinton

Long awaited Hunter Park sports precinct at Broadmeadow "needs to be more than a stadium"

FUTURE: An artist's impression of how Hunter Park at Broadmeadow could look.

Five years after it was first announced, Broadmeadow's future sport and entertainment precinct will be the NSW government's next focus for revitalisation in Newcastle.

The long awaited Hunter Park project is still in the early planning phase, with a business case yet to be submitted to apply for funding.

NSW Minister for Infrastructure Cities and Active Transport Rob Stokes spoke about the project at a Business Hunter lunch at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday.

He said the transformation of Honeysuckle was almost complete 30 years after it began - with the final three hectares of land now ripe for development - and Broadmeadow would be next.

Comparing the two areas, Mr Stokes said the Honeysuckle revitalisation was inspired by the closure of the BHP Steelworks while a "tired" sports stadium and entertainment centre was the catalyst for the overhaul of Broadmeadow. But he said the precinct should be better than an improvement of existing facilities.

"It needs to be more than a stadium," he said.

"Whether that's more opportunities to live, work or play... it's probably all three."

Mr Stokes said the challenge for government was there wasn't a lot of capacity to deliver on the project in the short term, saying Hunter Park needed a "significant commitment" in order to succeed.

Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes said he believed the comments showed the government appeared "genuinely interested in redeveloping a comprehensive precinct that can be activated across community needs".

"The minister made it clear that Hunter Park needed to be more than a stadium or more than just entertainment," he said

"That includes sport and entertainment, certainly, yet there seems to more appetite for cohesive commercial zones within the precincts that will attract and be accessible to all members of the community.

"That's good news for Hunter businesses as there is a real opportunity to deliver some great lifestyle and leisure offerings such a retail, hospitality and place-based tourism."

Talking about the wider Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle - one of six "greater cities" announced for NSW earlier this year, Mr Stokes said he could see it becoming a "distinct and powerful city" with a population of more than a million people.

The minister said more supply of housing was needed in Newcastle for both purchase and rent, and for all sorts of age groups and family structures.

"Regional cities are growing faster than Sydney CBD and I suspect that trend will continue," he said.

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