Current plans for the coast
Bar Beach and Empire Park are currently the subject to changes from 2 Council plans at various stages of development.
Bather's Way Plan (went on public exhibition in May 2012 and was approved by Council on 7 August 2012):
In summary, we welcome the vast majority of features of the Bathers Way plan as is so well used and will only be more popular over time. We do have areas of concern and suggestions for improvement which are summarised below and reflected in our submission, along with a number of other Bar Beach users and residents. Unfortunately the Council staff have failed to listen to many of these concerns based on their recommendations to the Council members for the vote on the final plan on 7 August.
· Norfolk Island Pines - Concern about plans to install Norfolk Island Pines along at the top of Kilgour Ave and along Memorial Drive). These concerns relate to safety of hang gliders, pedestrians and cars as well as the cost of maintenance and loss of view corridors. NCC response is: A high priority of the Coastal Revitalisation Master Plan is the provision of more shade along the coast. Consultation with the Newcastle Hang Gliding Club (NHGC) is underway and will continue during detail design. Species selection is limited due to exposure to salt.
· Shade options - Users we have consulted would prefer the installation of dedicated shade shelters and smaller native trees to provide shade and protection from wind. They would also prefer the existing 4 person shade shelters along Memorial Drive to be retained, rather than removed which the new plan seems to suggest. NCC response is: Shelters are considerably more costly than trees and small native trees do not provide adequate shade. The shade shelters on Memorial Drive are reaching the end of their usable life and will be replaced as part of the project.
· Loss of parking at Kilgour cliff top - We are concerned about the loss of parking at the Kilgour cliff top car park which is so well used by surfers and families. Also, the proposed 90 degree parking on Kilgour Ave at the top of the street would be very dangerous and should at least be limited to angled parking. NCC response is: Changes to parking are proposed in busy pedestrian areas to achieve maximum overall community benefit. Parking will be relocated within the precinct. Adjacent streets are of adequate width to accommodate additional parking. Parking is at capacity at peak times only. (Note they have ignored the safety aspects of 90 degree parking on a narrow cul-de-sac).
· Safety changes for Kilgour cliff top parking should be made now - We believe that at the Council has identified the significant risks to pedestrian safety that the Kilgour cliff top car park currently presents, that it should act now with less costly improvements to reduce the risks rather than wait up to 10 years for the funding to materialise to make the Bathers Way plan a reality. NCC response is: Changes will be implemented as part of the Bathers Way. (ie, they won't do anything for up to 3 years)
· Pedestrian crossing at Helen St and Kilgour Ave - Similarly, the pedestrian crossing at Helen St and Kilgour Ave agreed by Council in Dec 2010 and budgeted for 12-13 should definitely go ahead in this coming year. NCC response is: Changes will be implemented as part of the Bathers Way. (ie, they won't do anything for up to 3 years)
A copy of the memo for Councillors from the NCC staff is here. There is also a summary of the community feedback here and a copy of the diagramatic plan here (note it is a very large file and takes a while to load).
Bar Beach Public Domain Plan (likely to go on public exhibition in late 2012):
The Council's broader Bar Beach plan has also been updated to remove the proposed car park behind the Bowling Club which is good news for the many sporting and family groups who use it. The Council now plans to install angled parking along Bar Beach and Kilgour Avenues. Another new element is large trees potentially creating hazards for hang gliders and loss of views along the streets near the beach. Community representatives have told the Council of their concerns in this regard at the Bar Beach Domain Community Reference Group meeting and expressed a preference for lower trees, dedicated shade structures and retention of existing covered tables along Memorial Drive.
More information about the plan for Bar Beach and Empire Park from the Public Domain Plan is available on the Council's site here.
Previous plans for the Coast
Coastal Revitalisation Masterplan: The Bar Beach Public Domain Plan is the more detailed planning for the area following the Stockton to Merewether 2010 Coastal Revitalisation Masterplan. This broader plan was approved by the Council in October 2010 following several months of public feedback including from the Protect Empire Park group. The community had a number of concerns as reflected in Protect Empire Park's formal submission the Coastal Master Plan process in May 2010. A media release summarising our views is available here. Thanks to the feedback from the community a number of the controversial aspects of the Coastal Revitalisation Plan, including proposed retail along Empire Park, and a road running through the Park were eliminated from the Plan approved by Council. This was a win for PEP and our supporters!
A NCC report summarises the community feedback from the survey on the Coastal Master Plan to which 967 people from across Newcastle responded. The Empire Park content is largely detailed from page 31. An appendix to the summary report details the exact response breakdown to each proposal - look from page 49 for the content relating to Empire Park.
A copy of the final Coastal Master Plan and related information is available on the Council's site here.