ADAMANT: Newcastle MP Tim Owen, at the Civic station, says the Wickham interchange will go ahead and will give the public a better transport system.EDITORIAL:Solvingthe rail challenge

Lake concerns over Newcastle renewal plan

THERE would be no going back on the decision to terminate the Newcastle line at Wickham, Newcastle MP Tim Owen said on Monday.

Mr Owen was responding to comments from the Save Our Rail group, which said it was horrified that Planning Minister Brad Hazzard wanted to see the plans and implementation of the Wickham interchange by the March2015 election.

‘‘The decision has been made on the public transport system that is going to support the urban renewal strategy for Newcastle,’’ Mr Owen said.

‘‘While we are very understanding that people do have some concerns, we can assure people that the public transport system we will put in will be better than what is currently available.’’

The co-ordination and delivery group, set up to oversee the implementation of the urban renewal strategy, held its first meeting last Friday.

The group discussed options for access corridors and landscaping along the existing rail corridor as well as options for the future development of the East End, the Civic Precinct and the West End.

‘‘One of the key things that was discussed was that this group is charged with reporting back to cabinet by the end of this year with a prioritised development [plan] for the city of Newcastle in line with the urban renewal strategy,’’ Mr Owen, who observed the meeting, said.

The Newcastle Herald reported yesterday that the Save Our Rail group had asked to meet NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell.

A spokesman for the Premier said the group had last requested a meeting on February21, which was declined.

‘‘We have had no further contact with them,’’ he said.

“Members of the community are invited to have their say on the urban renewal plan on the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s website until March17.”

Trio to represent community viewon panel

GENTLEMEN’S Outfitters owner David McElwaine, former Newcastle Herald general manager Julie Ainsworth and Maitland lawyer Alan Arnold are the three community members of an eight-member group chosen to implement the government’s decision to cut rail services at Wickham.

Hunter Development Corporation spokesman Luke Mellare said the ‘‘co-ordination and delivery group’’ had a budget of $5million to commission the reports and investigations needed to turn the government’s decision into a concrete plan by the end of the year.

Mr McElwaine was the Newcastle business representative, Ms Ainsworth the Newcastle community representative and Mr Arnold the Maitland community representative.

Mr Mellare said the group was chaired by Infrastructure NSW chief executive Paul Broad, who was also chairman of the development corporation.

The other members were Newcastle deputy lord mayor Brad Luke and the directors-general of two government agencies, Transport for NSW and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

Development corporation manager Bob Hawes, is an ‘‘ex-officio’’ group member.