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Newcastle leads the way with progressive urban planning, design and development

A render of One National Park Street in Newcastle West.
A render of One National Park Street in Newcastle West.

City of Newcastle (CN) continues to raise the bar in urban planning and design, working with an independent panel of experts to evaluate and critique more than $1.5 billion in developments during the past year.  


CN’s Urban Design Review Panel (UDRP) convened for 13 meetings throughout 2023, offering guidance to CN staff and applicants on 48 development proposals as well as providing input on strategic projects including the Draft Newcastle Development Control Plan 2023.  


The projects are included in UDRP’s 2023 Annual Report, released ahead of next week’s Council meeting, which highlights a range of major developments, development proposals and design competitions in Newcastle. 

Significant development proposals considered by the URDP in 2023 include GWH's $71 million twin-tower luxury apartment complex, 'ONE', on National Park Street in Newcastle West, and Altim Property's $12 million customised commercial space, 'Arbour', also in Newcastle West.  

Newcastle Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes said the URDP provides an invaluable contribution to planning and design in Newcastle. 

"The Urban Design Review Panel generously share their extensive industry experience and expertise with applicants and design teams," Cr Nelmes said. 

"City of Newcastle's design panel has origins back in the 1980s when it was initially formed as the Urban Design Consultative Group.   

"Since the panel's inception, its members’ combined knowledge and guidance has continued to enhance our understanding of quality design; setting positive benchmarks for future development projects in and around the city." 


Panel Chair Dr Philip Pollard, who also acts as CN’s Jury Representative for planning and design competitions held throughout the year, said the UDRP continues to look for ways to take urban design excellence in Newcastle to the next level. 


“While interest rates and a shortage of medium to large building contractors have applied pressure to developments, the City has continued to see a high level of interest from the industry, with the number of larger developments continuing to provide new residences, commercial spaces and other facilities. Design competitions have also produced some excellent proposals that set a high standard,” Dr Pollard said. 

"In addition to the major developments we reviewed over the last 12 months, the UDRP has considered a range of smaller projects with relatively modest budgets. These developments contribute greatly to the character of the city and provide a variety of accommodation, from co-living to smaller medium density developments, to individual dwellings and an early learning centre. 

"Good design benefits the whole community and need not be the most expensive option." 

The current panel was appointed in 2021 and comprises a specialist group of design professionals with extensive industry experience across a diverse range of fields including architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, sustainability, heritage, and safer by design. 

CN is now seeking expressions of interest (EOI) for new members to join the UDRP on a three-year fixed contract. EOIs can be lodged via the Tenderlink portal until 30 April, with the new Panel’s term beginning on 1 July. 

CN Executive Director Planning and Environment, Michelle Bisson, thanked the current members for their time and expertise. 

“We extend our sincere gratitude to each member of the UDRP for their invaluable contributions throughout 2023. We appreciate the members for generously sharing their extensive industry experience and expertise with applicants and design teams,” Ms Bisson said. 

“The UDRP continues to enhance the City’s understanding of good design, and this has set positive benchmarks for future development. 

"I look forward to strengthening this expertise with a new panel of independent design experts, allowing us to continue to achieve excellence in urban design long into the future." 


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