PARTNERS: University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen, Chief Operationg Officer Nat McGregor and NSW Premier Mike Baird on the rooftop of the NeW Space building. Picture: Simone De PeakTHE University of Newcastle’s decision to movepart of its campusto two hectares of Honeysuckle and railway corridor land will double the number of students coming into the city in the coming years to 6000, Premier Mike Baird said.
The Newcastle Heraldrevealed on Mondaythat the new university site is across Hunter Street from itsNeW Space building, which isunder construction.
Broken into three parcels, the new sitehas height limits of 30 metres, or eight to nine storeys, and includes Honeysuckle’s Wright Lane car park next to the rail corridor.
In a visit to Newcastle on Monday, Mr Baird said the announcement that the university would “anchor” the redevelopment of the former heavy rail corridor marked “an exciting time for the city”.
“It has the potential to bring another 3000 students, so up to 6000 students that could be undertaking their studies right here in the city of Newcastle,” he said.
“The expectation is for additional facilities for students, potentially accommodation, we’re excited to be announcing that.”
The government still has work to do to get the corridor rezoning passed, but Mr Baird said the announcement marked an important point in the city’s regeneration.
“What you’re starting to see is how great Newcastle will be,” he said. “The trend around the world is very clear, the great cities are seeing great universities come back toward the centre.
“In terms of renewal and in terms of revitalisation, university campusesare leading that, the innovation to come, the energy, and the opportunities are boundless.”
The announcement marks the first confirmed use of the former heavy rail corridor, a stretch of land that hasbeen bitterly contested along party lines since the government announced it would run light rail down Hunter Street.
Butwhile protesters made their displeasure known outside Mr Baird’s appearance at a Property Council lunch, Newcastle’s Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp welcomed the decision.
“I’ll be happy to see the university in the city, I can only see that as a positive thing,” he said.
Mr Baird said the deal with the university should provide “assurance” to those opposed to the government’s plans, and that the university would anchor the future of the area.
University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Caroline McMillen said theagreement “builds opportunities for an integrated city precinct that could double the numberofstudents in theNewcastle CBD”.
She said that subject tothe finalisationofbusiness cases and development approvals, construction on the land could start from late 2018.