FORMER Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy says the University of Newcastle’s Honeysuckle campus would have more than 1000 car parking spaces if built according to planning regulations, and that plans to have just 12 parking spaces for up to 6500 students and staff were a “recipe for disaster”.
Mr McCloy, who has concentrated on his property business since being forced to resign from council during the 2014 ICAC controversy, said yesterday that he had nothing to lose personally if the campus went ahead without proper parking. But he could not stay silent at a time when the CBD was being used by the state government and Newcastle City Council as a social experiment against the car.
Mr McCloy said he supported the Honeysuckle expansion but building it without a multi-storey car park meant the university pushing its problems off on to the rest of the city.
The university’s transport and parking report justifies going without a major carpark by saying that most of the Honeysuckle students and staff would live close enough to the CBD to walk, cycle or catch public transport.
It says that providing parking for those who live more than eight kilometres from the CBD “creates the expectation that they shall drive”, which was “contradictory to” state government and council policies.
Mr McCloy described this as “crazy stuff”. He said “the village idiot” knew that suburban shopping centres succeeded because of parking and the university CBD campus was no different.
Responding, the university said: “Newcastle is a city of the future and is rapidly growing and changing.
These changes demand new approaches to complex issues such as transport and parking.” It said 5000 to 6000 passengers a week used a shuttle bus between the main university campus and NeW Space, showing its transport policies were working.
The Honeysuckle campus environmental impact statement and a raft of appendices are available to read on the planning department website and a four-week period for the lodging of public submissions closed last week.
The university says there will be further “formal and informal opportunities for community feedback, including from residents living nearby”. A response to issues raised in the various submissions lodged last month would be provided once they were received from the department.
OTHER REPORTS ON HONEYSUCKLE CAMPUS
It said the Honeysuckle campus transport strategy had been developed “on the back of the NeW Space development”, and the university supported “alternative transport modes including active travel by cycling, walking, skating and scooting”.
It said New Space had showers, lockers and secure bike storage for more than 215 bikes.
While it did "understand that there are some staff and students who do choose to drive to the university for a variety of reasons", it had the shuttle bus and ride-share parking available at the Gibson Street car park.
The Newcastle Herald understands it has 150 spaces there, which Mr McCloy said showed that NeW Space’s five car parks were inadequate. The university also pointed to the council’s park and ride program, which the Herald understands has been carrying an average of about 180 people a day.
Although Mr McCloy lobbied for the light rail on Hunter Street when he was lord mayor, he now says that “nobody in their wildest dreams thought they would take out all of the parking and all of the loading zones”.
He said the push to get people out of their cars was based on ideology not practicality and unless the need for cars and car-parking was accepted the revitalisation of the city was doomed to failure.
In its submission for McCloy Group, consultants KDC Pty Ltd say the university’s planning documents “fail to justify the significant parking space shortfall” at Honeysuckle.
The McCloy report says the university’s “traffic and parking studies rely on assumptions that cannot be sustained,” the report says, saying they assume that none of those using the Honeysuckle campus would use a car, which was “unrealistic”.
The university parking and transport assessment says: “It is also expected that students who move to Newcastle from out of the region would also choose to locate within the city and its surrounds, rather than live in the outer suburbs and commute”.
On the number of car parking spaces Mr McCloy says the campus should have, the report says the Honeysuckle development has a maximum “gross floor area” of 62,573 square metres, which equates to 1042 parking spaces under Newcastle’s 1:60 planning ratio.
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