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Residents could go car-free in Newcastle’s latest transit-oriented developments

Residents of the two residential towers planned for Newcastle’s $200 million transit-oriented The Store redevelopment will probably be able to do without cars, according to managing director of Bates Smart Simon Swaney.

Bates Smart and DOMA Group were this week awarded the contract for the project by the NSW government. The site, which includes the heritage The Store building, is already an interchange for buses and has a heavy rail station adjacent.

On completion, the mixed-use project comprising residential, commercial, retail and public space will be a node that connects every form of Newcastle transport including heavy rail, local buses, regional coaches, cars and the light rail that is currently under construction.

The two residential towers of more than 400 apartments will therefore offer residents access to the entire city without the need to use a car, Mr Swaney said.

He said the slender design of the towers also created opportunities for the apartments to have good natural ventilation and solar access.

The towers have been situated above a podium that will include commercial and retail space as part of activating the interchange area’s ground plane, Mr Swaney said.

The third major building planned for the redevelopment is a commercial office building of between 12,500-14,500 metres of net lettable area. This is already earmarked for a state government tenant.

The detail design will be targeting 5 Star Green Star and a 4.5 star NABERSratings.

While the building will have “substantial” end of trip facilities, Mr Swaney said there was a still a requirement for the design to deliver a significant amount of parking.

This was resolved by designing a multi-level carpark with an elliptical form that sits above the interchange. A void from roof to ground level will bring natural light into the interchange ground plane. At the same time, it will provide shade for the open public plaza area.

Mr Swaney said that while solar access has been a major requirement for design, places that provide shading are also becoming important.

Open sides will ensure the carpark is naturally ventilated, and greening on the facade will add to public amenity, Mr Swaney said.

Other plans for greening include the top of the podium below the residential towers, and on the northern side, a reserve area with substantial plantings.

Generally, Mr Swaney said, bus interchanges were not known for being “places of great appeal”.

The whole aim of the design is to “build a ground plane where people want to be”.

For people entering the site from adjacent streets, the redevelopment will “improve the quality of the experience” of the interchange and its surrounding spaces.

NSW Minister for infrastructure and transport Andrew Constance said the project contract being awarded was a milestone that represents the start of another “catalytic” change for the city.

“A year ago we announced that we were going to try something bold for The Store site, by testing the market to see if private developers would deliver a bus interchange as a part of a fully integrated development solution,” he said.

The government called for proposals for the site, which it purchased in 2015, as part of a competitive process.

As well as the site’s heritage and transport attributes, it was identified in the 2012 the Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy as a key site helping to underpin the westward shift of the city’s CBD.

Doma Group’s managing director Jure Domazet said site presented a complex challenge to incorporate a major piece of infrastructure with an integrated development that would also enhance opportunity and density around a major transport node.

Minister Constance said Doma Group’s concept plan for The Store reflected the government’s high expectation for design excellence.

“The plan shows how innovative, quality design seamlessly integrates the site with the existing Newcastle Interchange, and uses quality architecture that is arguably as impressive as the recent NeW Space and Court House developments.

“The design allows for the expansion of light rail, which means we are future proofing the site.

 “It is certainly an exciting time in Newcastle’s history right now.”

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