Newcastle is updating the Wickham masterplan, turning the semi-industrial fringe suburb into an urban neighbourhood to support its reinvented city centre, but the city's mining history is making things less than straightforward.
The masterplan aims to take advantage of upgrades in the neighbouring central business district, including the City of Newcastle Council’s relocation to the West End and Iris Capital's $700-million development in East End.
The precincts outlined in the masterplan included the residential village hub, harbour edge, park edge, rail edge, and emerging industry quarter as well as space for community and recreation.
The Wickham master plan was created in 2017 but was amended to address potential subsidence due to old underground mines and to direct future development.
The council voted to put the updated Wickham masterplan on exhibition this week and also recommended an update to the local environmental plan to facilitate a broader range of housing types in the village hub.
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the council wanted to protect Wickham’s suburban character while ensuring public facilities and infrastructure supported the growing population.
“Wickham is experiencing increased investor interest and has attracted new developments due to its proximity to the growing Newcastle West, new transport interchange and the harbour, along with the availability of larger sites zoned for mixed use,” Nelmes said.
“Planned urban renewal will deliver greater road and pedestrian links within Wickham and to adjoining areas, improved public amenity as well as buildings and infrastructure that reflect the area’s character.”
Newcastle regulatory, planning and assessment manager Michelle Bisson said the updated Wickham masterplan also dealt more directly with the issue of mine subsidence.
“Recent assessments by Subsidence Advisory NSW have found that the risks of subsidence from old mine workings in Wickham are more extensive than previously anticipated,” Bisson said.
“Subsidence Advisory NSW’s advice is that a complex and expensive bulk grouting solution would be required to remedy the undermined areas of Wickham, which would require state government funding.”