Revitalising Newcastle

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. 

As the second biggest city in NSW, Newcastle has over 155,000 residents and this is expected to grow to 190,000 by 2031. By 2036, the city centre is also expected to accommodate an additional 10,000 jobs and 6,000 homes.

With its location and setting between the river and the ocean making it a compact, unique, and people-friendly city, Newcastle has the opportunity to continue to evolve, to strengthen its position as the Hunter region’s capital, and to become a vibrant economic, residential and tourist hub.

This is why the NSW Government has worked with the City of Newcastle Council, key government agencies, local businesses and the community to develop a vision to transform and revitalise Newcastle’s city centre.

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.

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
  • Improve the efficiency of the road network and manage car parking

On 25 July 2014, the Minister for Planning announced that the planning controls that will shape the Newcastle CBD’s future had received final approval. An update to the Strategy was also released.

The new planning controls will commence on 1 August 2014, after the amendment to the Newcastle LEP is formally notified on the NSW Legislation website

Minister's media release - 25 July 2014

Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy 2014 Update

Frequently asked questions - July 2014

Download the Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy 2012 

 [Part 1 - 8MB] [Part 2 - 10MB] [Part 3 - 2MB] [Part 4 - 4MB] [Part 5 - 10MB] [Part 6 - 2MB]

Planning controls

The changes to the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan (LEP) include:

  • Zoning land and providing appropriate controls for Newcastle’s city centre to promote urban renewal and the creation of a quality urban environment
  • The realisation of jobs and housing targets for Newcastle’s city centre in accordance with the Lower Hunter Regional Development Strategy
  • Delivering housing choice and affordability by accommodating a wide range of residential dwelling types and densities
  • Managing development of the city centre in a sustainable way and preserving Newcastle’s heritage by setting maximum building heights and floor space ratios for commercial, residential and mixed use development.

Explanatory note to the planning controls

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.

Submissions made on the Development Control Plan are being considered by the department.

Newcastle City Centre Finalisation Report

View submissions made during the first exhibition of the planning controls

View submissions made during the second exhibition of the planning controls

View submissions made during the exhibition of the Development Control Plan

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
  • 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 and implementing the light rail network, 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.

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
Last Updated 28-Jul-2014