Uncertainty over future land uses for the former Hamilton North gasworks site has emerged as key issue from the community consultation a plan to clean-up the heavily polluted site.
The site’s owner Jemena hopes to start work on an $11.5 million project to rehabilitate and concrete cap the area early next year.
The company has proposed remediating the site, which has remained dormant since the mid-1980s, to a level suitable for commercial or industrial purposes.
Newcastle City Council’s submission to the Department of Planning expressed concern about the lack of clarity about potential future land uses.
“While the environmental impact statement makes no commitment as to the scope of future land uses, it acknowledges that further detailed planning, assessment and approvals are required (post decontamination) to determine the best long term use of the land, which may include uses not currently permissible. Residential uses being singled out as a possibility,” the council’s submission said.
“While this is not relevant to the current application, it is premature and misleading for such as a specific use to be preempted without any supporting evidence of it’s suitability.”
Matthew Murray of Hamilton North said it was disappointing that the company was only proposing to remediate the site to a level suitable for light industrial development.
“While I understand that remediating the land to a level which would allow for housing or commercial development would significantly increase the cost of the remediation project, the location of former gasworks is very significant in terms of future growth in the Newcastle Local Government Area,” Mr Murray’s submission said.
“I believe that the extra costs involved in remediating the site to a level which could allow housing or commercial development would assist the NSW Government adequately plan for future growth in the Hamilton North and Broadmeadow area.”
A Jemena spokesmansaid it was pleasing the submissions were generally supportive of the project.
The company would now respond to each submission separately in coming weeks.
“Following this, our remediation plan will be considered by the NSW Government for formal approval. Depending on how long that process takes, our aim is to have boots on ground early next year,” he said.
“At this stage we will be remediating the site to an industrial or commercial standard, however we have not made any plans in relation to how the site may be used once the remediation has been completed.”