Think HBR

Community shapes new vision for Newcastle's iconic Harbour Foreshore

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes at Foreshore Park with Cr John Mackenzie and Varietys Peter Harvey
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes with Cr John Mackenzie & Variety's Peter Harvey.

City of Newcastle has released its updated vision for Newcastle's Harbour Foreshore including a revised concept for Foreshore Park, showing an additional 4,000m² of playspace with more picnic areas, trees and gardens, cycleways, as well as new plans for the Wharf Road Precinct.

The updated concept includes increasing the size of the fenced regional-level accessible and inclusive playground, a significant waterplay space, a cultural heritage walk that links back to Newcastle’s Indigenous heritage, and improvements along Wharf Road and Tug Berth Lane. Tree planting is planned throughout the inclusive playspace and the concept plan proposes a formal tree grove, which will link the two event spaces, The Grove and The Commons. Additional planting of an avenue of trees is proposed along Wharf Road.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that the revised concept, presented to the Harbour Foreshore Community Reference Group last night, includes a number of key changes to the preliminary concept plan based on community consultation undertaken earlier this year.

"This project is a great example of City of Newcastle working with our community to deliver its first regional-level recreational park and flexible open space that meets the needs and wants of those who will use Foreshore Park into the future," Cr Nelmes said.

"Our community provided valuable feedback which has helped shape the revised plans for Foreshore Park and I’d like to thank everyone who provided input, particularly our Community Reference Group members.

"In direct response to the community's feedback, revisions to the concept for Foreshore Park include the relocation of the inclusive 'Variety Livvi's Place' playspace and adjoining amenities, and provision for a multi-purpose rollerskating, scooting and performing arts area.

"We've also developed a concept plan to turn the Wharf Road Precinct into a world-class harbourside esplanade. We are doing this by improving the Joy Cummings promenade, parklands, connecting pathways and cycling infrastructure, improving access to the area, and creating new opportunities for our community and visitors to make the most of the magnificent waterfront location.”

Newcastle Councillor John Mackenzie said he is looking forward to seeing this project progress, delivering new facilities and retaining existing features such as the Sandhills Community Garden in its current location.

“We’ll continue to work with the Community Reference Group to fine tune the concept designs ahead of the development of the draft masterplan for the site, which will be placed on public exhibition for broad community feedback later this year," Cr Mackenzie said.

A key aspect of the concept design is the inclusive ‘Variety Livvi’s Place’ playspace which is being delivered in partnership with Variety the Children’s Charity and was bolstered by a $500,000 contribution from the Newcastle Port Community Contribution Fund, along with $300,000 from the NSW Government’s Everyone Can Play grant program.

Variety – the Children’s Charity NSW/ACT Head of Inclusive Play, Kim Becherand, said redevelopments for passive recreation and play like Foreshore Park are fundamental in creating inclusive communities across Australia.

“At Variety we believe that all kids deserve to experience the joy and benefits of play. Working together with the kids, families and community of Newcastle we have created a bespoke playspace that pushes the boundaries of what an inclusive playspace can be. A space with endless opportunities to connect, explore and play, where difference doesn’t matter and everyone is included, valued and feels they belong.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin said backing projects like the inclusive playspace in Foreshore Park will make it easier for locals and visitors to enjoy the city’s magnificent shoreline.

“The Newcastle Harbour Foreshore is the heart of the city and this project will give people even more reasons to come together and experience the port’s rich history and culture in an inclusive and accessible setting,” Mr Martin said.

Summary of community engagement to date:

  • Harbour Foreshore Masterplan project released for tender in December 2019.
  • Phase 1 community engagement occurred in mid-2020 with almost 1,000 people sharing what they love about the Harbour Foreshore, what they want to see in the future and how they use Foreshore Park via a survey and interactive online mapping tool. Variety undertook additional engagement with schools and other key stakeholders regarding the playground.
  • Community Reference Group (CRG) was formed and includes community members, stakeholders and representatives from community groups. First meeting was held in August 2020 about the visions and principles guiding the masterplan.
  • A second CRG meeting took place in December 2020, for feedback on an early draft concept. A workshop was also run with school children for feedback on the inclusive play space concept.
  • Phase 2 community engagement on preliminary concept designs occurred in February 2021 including social pinpoint, drop-in sessions, submissions and survey.
  • Stakeholder workshops for Wharf Road were held in May 2021.
  • A third CRG meeting occurred on 22 July 2021 for final feedback ahead of development of the draft masterplan, which will be on public exhibition for broad community feedback later this year.

Foreshore Park revised concept plan