An Eyesore Unseen

Car park demolition reveals city to harbour view corridor.

View in 2008 from south (cathedral) to north (Stockton)~ © NoH.

Editor's note ~ The car park demolition is ironic, considering a plan in 2007 to demolish it for a shopping mall, GPT Central, by The GPT Group. That mall would have not just consumed King Street, its monolithic structure would have reached the height of Newcastle Cathedral's steps, effectively obliterating it from southward city viewpoints. A background opinion piece was written at the time: GPT's Newcastle - A Citizen Objects.

30 September 2021 ~ City of Newcastle will demolish the 59-year-old Mall Car Park at 92 King Street. Work should end late-January 2022.

A structural assessment of the seven-storey car park was conducted in March 2020 and subsequently closed due to public safety concerns.

City of Newcastle Director of Governance David Clarke said with demolition work now underway to remove the aging Mall Car Park, every effort will be made to ensure that disruption to nearby businesses and residents is minimised during the process.

During demolition, there will be increased noise from machinery and frequent truck movements in and around the work zone. Demolition vehicle access will be via King Street, into Thorn and Laing Streets. Vehicle access to Laing Street will be maintained for most of the project durat
ion with some road closures during strategic works,” Mr Clarke said.
Pedestrian access around the site will be maintained with temporary fencing in place, to ensure community safety. Environmental monitoring and controls to manage dust, noise and vibration will be undertaken by the site contractor.

With work now underway, it's exciting to see a first glimpse of the stunning view corridor that brings to life a long-held strategic vision of City of Newcastle and the NSW Government to connect the city to the harbour by opening up the lines of sight.”

The vision proposes to link Christ Church Cathedral to the Harbour via a grand staircase. Accessibility for the community is a key consideration to ensure everyone can share and enjoy the proposed space, in addition to retaining 380 public car parking spaces for the community to utilise.

Preserving the view corridor between the harbour and the Cathedral has the full support of The Property Council and Urban Design Review Panel, to turn a long-held concept into a landmark public space for the city,” Mr Clarke said.

Phase one of the City’s East End revitalisation is well underway, with Hunter Street currently closed to upgrade the streetscape, stormwater infrastructure and underground communication lines. Most of the work along Wolfe Street is complete and works have also started on Perkins Street. The project is one of the City’s four Priority Projects and phase one is on track to be completed by February 2022.

Visit www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au for the most up-to-date information 

1 July 2021 ~ City of Newcastle Council has awarded a tender to demolish the 59-year-old Mall Car Park, with work set to commence in early August 2021.

The contract is valued at $3.7 million and will be completed by mid-November 2021.

As seen from Wharf Road,  King Street parking station's encroachment on Newcastle Cathedral grandeur..

City of Newcastle commissioned a structural assessment of the seven-storey car park in March 2020, following issues with concrete spalls falling from the building. The car park has been closed since, due to concerns around public safety.

City of Newcastle Director of Governance David Clarke said the next step is to safely remove the Mall Car Park and continue engaging with the community and key stakeholders on how to best use the newfound space for the betterment of the city.

The Mall Car Park has significantly outlived its likely life and restoring it is not a viable option. By demolishing the 59-year-old car park we are also removing a significant structural risk to the city and a major asbestos source,” Mr Clarke said.

Once the car park is demolished, a stunning view corridor will open up and bring to the fore a long-held strategic vision of City of Newcastle and the NSW Government to connect the city to the harbour.”

The vision proposes to link Christ Church Cathedral to the Harbour via a grand staircase, inspired by Rome’s Spanish Steps. Accessibility for the community is a key consideration to ensure everyone can share and enjoy the proposed space, in addition to retaining 380 public car parking spaces for the community to utilise.

The City has one chance to preserve the view corridor to the Cathedral and has the full support of The Property Council and Urban Design Review Panel to turn a long-held concept into a landmark public space for the city,” Mr Clarke said.

The concept aims to provide a beautiful public asset for our community and a world-class attraction for visitors, whilst retaining 380 car parking spaces in a central location of our city’s revitalised east end.

Early community engagement indicates 75 per cent of people surveyed support the landmark concept which would feature a 93 metre long and 20 metre wide public space and stairway extending from Hunter Street to King Street, enabling wide and accessible pedestrian access, active shop fronts, landings and courtyards along the proposed staircase to gather and meet. A third of people believe the concept would be a unique feature for Newcastle that would attract tourists.

We are still in the early stages of engaging with the community and key stakeholders, and are continuing to work with Iris Capital to explore this exciting vision and determine whether it can be done in a manner that meets community planning expectations.”

 

Public space will connect Harbour to Cathedral.

8 December 2020 ~ Inspired by Rome’s Spanish Steps, council hopes to create a stunning  corridor from Christ Church Cathedral to the harbour.

This 2007 viewpoint from atop the former tower shows the King Street car park crowds the cathedral's northerly aspect.

The ‘Stairway to Heaven’ concept, first developed fourteen years ago by a group of prominent Novocastrian architects, proposes to link Christ Church Cathedral to the Harbour via a grand staircase.
The plan seeks to open-up connections and view lines from Newcastle foreshore and the Hunter Street Mall to Christ Church Cathedral, aligning with long held strategic objectives of the City of Newcastle and the Revitalising Newcastle program to connect the city to the waterfront.

City of Newcastle proposes to demolish the 59-year old Mall Car Park, which closed on 20 April 2020 due to its poor structural condition, to make way for the project.

CEO Jeremy Bath said the proposed demolition of the Mall Car Park presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to re-imagine the future use of the car park site.

The option of demolishing the existing Mall Car Park has allowed us to bring back to the table the concept of the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, an idea that was first imagined well over a decade ago.

By introducing a grand staircase with wide pedestrian access, active shop fronts, landings and courtyards, it would bring a European Quarter feel to this part of the city, highlighting the character of Newcastle’s historic CBD and re-establish a link to the Harbour.

Given the poor structural condition of Mall Car Park, the significant costs associated to rectify and bring the carpark up to current standards, the City does not intend to repair or reconstruct it.

Instead we are now exploring the best use for the site, including the potential to integrate the site with the adjoining Iris Capital East End development which would involve undertaking a range of feasibility studies for the next phase of the development.

The proposed feasibility analysis and discussions with Iris Capital will ensure essential public car parking requirements are factored into the next phase of planning and that the best outcome is achieved for the Mall Car Park site and city.

I will be asking the elected Council next Tuesday to refer the concept to the Asset Advisory Committee and the Urban Design Consultative Group for advice. The Newcastle Inner City Residents Alliance (NICRA) will also be formally consulted.”

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said City of Newcastle was committed to creating a more attractive and liveable city through planning opportunities such as the Stairway to Heaven concept.

Opportunities to open up our iconic and beautiful Christchurch Cathedral to the Harbour don’t come every day, and we are constantly looking at ways to get the best future outcomes for our community through these everyday planning decisions,” the Lord Mayor said.

We’re looking forward to working with the community and key stakeholders on how best to utilise this immensely important piece of Newcastle.”

A development application will shortly be lodged seeking approval to demolish Mall Car Park.

The Cathedral 'dodged a bullet' when GPT withdrew from a plan to build a shopping complex "Hunter Central" that would not only have consumed King Street and reached the height of the cathedral steps.
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