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Background information on the Hunter region


The Draft Hunter Regional Plan outlines a vision to grow and diversify the Hunter economy over the next 20 years so that it remains the biggest and most productive regional economy in Australia.

The Draft Plan for Growing Hunter City should be read as a companion to the Draft Hunter Regional Plan. The draft Plan for Growing Hunter City recognises the area’s importance as the second largest metropolitan area in NSW.

The Lower Hunter over the next 20 years: A Discussion Paper 2013 -  highlighted key issues for the future of the Hunter such as housing, jobs and infrastructure, and invited community and stakeholder feedback.


Strategic Regional Land Use Plan for the Upper Hunter 2012 -  prepared to manage the growth of the coal and coal seam gas industry, and to balance the needs of this industry with other industries such as agriculture, and to encourage more sustainable growth and development.


Regional Strategy Update Report 2009 - provides an update on the strategic direction for land use planning in the Lower Hunter, as outlined in Lower Hunter Regional Strategy 2006-31, 2006


Lower Hunter Regional Strategy 2006-31 2006 (Complete including maps) - provides the strategic direction for land use planning in the Lower Hunter (Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle and Port Stephens).

Please note: some of the PDFs on this page contain large amounts of rich content and may take some time to download.

Review of industrial employment lands in the Throsby area 2010 - made recommendations for the adoption of future land use zones at Carrington, Islington, Maryville, Tighes Hill and Wickham in the draft Newcastle comprehensive local environmental plan.  

Lower Hunter Regional Conservation Plan 2009 - sets out the program to direct conservation efforts in the Lower Hunter 

Lower Hunter Regional Sustainability Planning and Strategic Assessment in the Lower Hunter 2012 - joint initiative of the NSW and Australian Governments

Strategic assessment of a biodiversity plan for coal mining in the Upper Hunter Valley 2012 – joint initiative of the NSW and Australian Governments

Agriculture Industry Mapping Pilot Project 2011-12 -  mapped highly suitable lands for each leading agricultural industry in six local government areas, including Singleton and Muswellbrook in the Upper Hunter.

Newcastle–Lake Macquarie Western Corridor Planning Strategy 2010  - identifies key planning principles, development criteria and infrastructure requirements for  a 20km long corridor running between Beresfield and Killingworth.


Revitalising Newcastle

This project relates to a strategy for investment and renewal for the Newcastle City Centre, broadly extending from Newcastle East to Wickham.


Newcastle and the surrounding Hunter region have undergone significant economic change. It is now evolving beyond its industrial and manufacturing origins towards a more economically diverse regional city.


Newcastle is the second largest city in NSW and is expected to grow significantly between now and 2036 when the city centre is expected to accommodate many more jobs and homes.


The city has the opportunity to strengthen its position as the Hunter region’s capital, and to become a more vibrant economic, residential and tourist hub.

Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy

In 2012, the NSW Government announced the Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy, a 25-year plan to revitalise Newcastle, reinforce its role as a 21st century regional centre and provide a framework to create the jobs and homes needed by 2036.


An update on the Urban Renewal Strategy was released during July 2014 to coincide with the approval of the planning controls that will shape the Newcastle Central Business District's future.


The Strategy incorporates a number of initiatives designed to drive urban renewal and support growth in the city centre. They include:

  • re-establish Hunter Street as Newcastle’s main street and revitalise the Hunter Street Mall and the East End to encourage a boutique retail, entertainment, leisure and residential precinct;
  • position the West End for long-term growth;
  • create a university presence and educational hub at Civic;
  • connect the city with its waterfront and improve access to and within the city centre;
  • recognise Newcastle’s heritage as an asset;
  • support greater use of public transport and create a connected walking and cycling network; and
  • improve the efficiency of the road network and manage car parking.

Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy 2014 Documents

Updated 20 October 2010

Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy 2012 Documents

Part 1 - 8MB, Part 2 - 10MB, Part 3 - 2MB, Part 4 - 4MB, Part 5 - 10MB, Part 6 - 2MB.

Planning controls

Planning controls to shape the future of Newcastle's CBD commenced on 29 July 2014. They were implemented through an amendment to the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

A Development Control Plan (DCP) has also been adopted for the Newcastle City Centre, which contains the detailed planning and design guidelines. The DCP commenced on 9 October 2014 and supports the Newcastle LEP.

Newcastle City Centre - Development Control Plan
The planning controls are a key element in delivering on the Urban Renewal Strategy as they:

  • zone land and provide appropriate controls for Newcastle’s city centre to promote urban renewal and the creation of a quality urban environment;
  • help realise of jobs and housing targets for Newcastle’s city centre in accordance with the Lower Hunter Regional Development Strategy;
  • deliver housing choice and affordability by accommodating a wide range of residential dwelling types and densities; and
  • manage development of the city centre in a sustainable way and preserve the city’s heritage by setting maximum building heights and floor space ratios for commercial, residential and mixed use development.

Explanatory note to the planning controls
Newcastle Local Environment Plan 2012
Final Newcastle City Centre LEP maps

Traffic and transport

The Urban Renewal Strategy includes a number of transport initiatives to support better connections and access to and within the city centre. These initiatives are an important part of creating an active and liveable city.
As well as creating a new, fully accessible transport interchange at Wickham and establishing light rail between Wickham and the beach, the Strategy incorporates:

  • better connections for pedestrians and cyclists;
  • dedicated cycle lanes;
  • new connections across the railway line – reconnecting the city centre to its waterfront;
  • better management of city traffic and car parking solutions; and
  • upgrading the road network and key intersections.

The Newcastle light rail project, including route development and community consultation is being managed by UrbanGrowth NSW and Transport for NSW.

Funding the revitalisation of Newcastle

In April 2014, the NSW Premier and Treasurer announced the successful lease of the Port of Newcastle securing the funds needed for the revitalisation of Newcastle. Proceeds of $340 million from the 98-year lease, together with $120 million from the Hunter Investment & Infrastructure Fund and Restart NSW, will be used for the revitalisation of the Newcastle CBD and the Wickham transport interchange.

Next steps

The Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy is a 25-year plan. In the short term, a number of activities are set to occur, including making new connections to the waterfront, improving the transport network, implementing the light rail network, and redeveloping key sites in the East End.


The community will continue to be consulted and announcements will be made on important milestones along the way.

Community consultation

The Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy and the planning controls were informed by extensive community consultation. The Strategy and the proposed changes to the Local Environmental Plan for zoning, height and floor space ratio controls were first exhibited from 14 December 2012 until 19 April 2013. 


A second exhibition of the proposed planning framework was held between 5 March 2014 and 21 March 2014. At the same time, proposed changes to the Newcastle Development Control Plan, including the more detailed planning and design guidelines for the city centre that will support the LEP were exhibited between 5 March 2014 and 4 April 2014.


A total of 686 submissions were received in response to the three exhibitions.


The submissions demonstrated broad community support for enhancing the city centre. A number of concerns were raised, relating mainly to zonings and land use, the termination of the rail line at Wickham, and the increased height across sites in the East End. 


Changes were made to the planning controls in response to submissions. Further information is contained in the Newcastle City Centre Finalisation Report.

For more information

  • Planning & Environment (Newcastle Office) Level 2, 26 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle
  • City of Newcastle, Administration Centre, 282 King Street, Newcastle
  • Planning & Environment Information Centre, telephone 1300 305 695 or email
  • Find out about UrbanGrowth’s work in Newcastle and the light rail at

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