The Lower Hunter's next major urban revitalisation project, Hunter Park at Broadmeadow, was an opportunity to combine the best of public and private investment, Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport Rob Stokes believes.
Speaking at Friday's Property Council lunch, Mr Stokes argued that the "old industrial modernist idea" that private investment was bad for communities had no place in modern planning.
"I think it would be a terrible shame if we were to subdivide that (Broadmeadow) site according to public versus private use," Mr Stokes, who will retire from politics at the the next election, said.
"The idea that private investment in Broadmeadow is somehow privatisation, or in some way is negating the opportunity at that site, would be to misunderstand the opportunity that is there. Of course we need a new entertainment centre, of course there are opportunities to bring new public entertainment facilities to the community of Newcastle and the Lower Hunter. But that shouldn't come at the cost of encouraging private investment in those spaces as well. If we do one without the other we are frankly cutting off our nose to spite our face."
Despite growing calls for the Hunter Park vision to be made a reality, the project remains in the early planning phase, with a business case yet to be submitted to apply for funding.
Mr Stokes also said the $700million Revitalising Newcastle project, which had the removal of the heavy rail line as its centrepiece, had been a fight worth having.
"That rail line physically separated the citizens from the harbour and defined their city with the lived experience that came with it. How wonderful has it been that that rail corridor has been replaced with a whole series of public spaces for the community to enjoy and to keep businesses alive. That simply would not have been able to happen if that rail corridor had still been there," he said.
"It's a great example of where a fight was worth having because it achieved an outcome that has benefited everyone in the community."
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