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City explores public space connecting the Harbour and the Cathedral

A new public space, inspired by Rome’s Spanish Steps, is proposed as part of the redevelopment of Hunter Street Mall and Iris Capital’s East End and in the process create a stunning view corridor of Christ Church Cathedral from Newcastle foreshore.


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 reimagine 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.


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