THE Newcastle CBD is still a central business district in name, but much of the development in recent years has been residential - a trend that not surprisingly puts pressure on existing inner city government schools.
Two years ago this month, the Berejiklian government announced a Newcastle Education Precinct as part of a state-wide series of school upgrades.
A leaked copy of a draft masterplan for Newcastle High School and the surrounding open areas reveals two major options under consideration back then.
Both options involve the addition of a primary school.
Both would involve major construction works on the site, and one would move Newcastle High to the other side of the Fearnley Dawes Athletics Centre to the area used by Newcastle National Park Croquet Club and the Newcastle District Bowling Association headquarters, with the former tennis courts in between.
Two years after the initial announcement, the government has refused the Newcastle Herald's request for documents on the precinct under the Government Information (Public Access) Act - an application made as part of our Your Right To Know campaign.
YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW:
Opposition Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp has been similarly rebuffed in his efforts to discover what progress, if any, has been made in the meantime.
Despite regular promises of practising "open and transparent" administration, both Coalition and Labor governments can usually find ways to refuse, or defuse, GIPA or FOI applications if they want to keep material secret.
One major cut-out is to have documents stamped "Cabinet in confidence", automatically excluding them from such applications.
These documents are not cabinet documents, yet the officer handling the Herald's application has listed the likelihood of the proposal itself going to cabinet as a reason for refusal.
We are contesting this decision.
At the same time, we accept that planning on this scale takes time.
But planning that truly involves the public in government decision making would not be conducted in the secrecy on display here.
The Revitalising Newcastle project has had a major impact on the CBD, and not all of it has been positive.
If the government wants the trust of the Hunter public, it needs be open from the start, and not start "consultation" when big decisions are effectively fait accompli.
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