If you discuss with someone who has grown up in Newcastle (or lived here for years) How The Face Of Newcastle Is Changing the first thing they will probably say is that Newcastle has got much more going for it now than it used to. They might then mention that the traffic has increased over the past five to ten years.
The Traffic In And Around Newcastle
Now, the first thing to say is that bad traffic in Newy is still nothing compared to what you get down the road in Sydney, but it is a really good indicator of the increasing population of Newcastle and the Hunter region. The city council is trying to tackle this issue head on with public transport and Park & Ride schemes. We’ve even heard that driverless cars moving people around the city might be a silver-bullet for the issue. The main knock-on effect from having too many vehicles on the road is the strain it puts on parking. This is another headache for the council, particularly when it comes to people driving into the city center. Some have said that the answer to this will be parking provided in new apartment blocks, or near public transport interchanges. Whether this argument is watertight remains to be seen.
Downtown Newcastle NSW
The next visual clue of things changing in Newcastle (and one which is almost impossible to miss even for those who have just arrived in the city) is the huge number of new developments. The skyline of Newy is set to change dramatically over the next few years – in the future it will probably resemble other major Australian cities with a “downtown” look of high-rise apartments and office blocks. Now, we’re fans of positive progress and innovation, so we’re not saying this is definitely a bad thing – we’ll just have to wait and see. Newcastle has an impressive collection of beautiful old buildings, and these offset the modern ones nicely – some of the new developments are being built with the old fronts preserved and incorporated into the design, which is great!
The Newcastle Job Market
The job sector is probably the best indicator of How The Face Of Newcastle Is Changing, and paints a picture that illustrates the points nicely. Newcastle used to be known as a coal and steel city, but now the city is becoming known as an innovation hub with a thriving IT industry and a council that is trying to embrace it. There are a healthy number of businesses, and mid-to-large-sized companies are now looking at Newcastle as a viable option for their head offices instead of Sydney. This is boosted by the University Of Newcastle, which is a significant employer in the area. It has a thriving population of Australian students and is also attracting plenty from overseas too, which helps future-proof the city and brings diversity.
The Newy Scene
A city that has lots of people, hard workers and creative minds needs places for them to unwind. Newy has a fantastic array of bars, cafes and restaurants, a strong music scene and nightlife. And during the day, the coastal lifestyle and sporting activities come to the forefront, backed up nicely by a wide selection of shops, markets and more. Newy also has a great Sunday Farmer’s Market culture where people proudly support local farmers and small businesses. It is great to see the shift towards sustainability that’s happening – with more reusable shopping bags and coffee cups on show than in previous years.
Housing In And Around Newcastle
There aren’t many new houses being built in town, which isn’t surprising considering there is limited space, making the only other option the very expensive Buy, Knockdown and Rebuild. This lack of new homes and the increasing interest from Sydney has meant that property prices have been steadily going up over the years, and look set to continue. There are new housing developments, usually on the edge of town or inland, which are likely to mean that Newcastle may look increasingly sprawling as time goes by.
The grand plan for Newcastle’s CBD seems to be to move it away from the coast and in the direction of Newcastle West and Wickham. Vast sums of money have been spent changing the face of the city’s public transport network, and the Newcastle Interchange is the new hub of it. Only time will tell if the money was spent wisely, and this will be directly linked to how the network is expanded and if significant numbers of people actually use it – moving an established CBD and also getting Aussies to not use their cars are a couple of exceedingly difficult tasks.
Newcastle International Airport
The fact that Newcastle airport has now gone international is massive for the city. If a modern city is to have continued growth an international airport with good transport connections to the city center is key. This is possibly going to be the most testing and interesting change for the city – it is much needed and has to be planned and executed correctly.