Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Newtown Station - Mayor's take
In my last post I summarised what I could find regarding RailCorp's plans to upgrade Newtown Station. So what do I think about the planned upgrade ?
In some ways the plan was a surprise for me, I had been expecting the concourse to push out behind the existing station building; assuming that the insides would be fully gutted to provide a smooth access to the lifts and stairs. The actual plan is more ambitious and has the advantage of also cleaning up the mess that is the property between the station and the Townie.
Other positive aspects of the plan include the renovation of the Tramway Depot Office (above) - as well as the existing buildings that were always going to be repaired, and of course the fact that the station gets two new stairs (should reduce the crowding that occurs after every train in peak hour) as well as a lift to improve access for many people who today struggle with the stairs. I'm pretty sure a single lift will be sufficient so I'm not worried about that.
One commenter has observed that the modern "wave" look of the new retail and concourse is out of character for Newtown. It's hard to tell from the limited 'artist's impression', and I'm not a fan of faux heritage; but it is important that the new retail be sympathetic to the surrounds, without necessarily aping them. Hopefully we will be provided more detailed plans and get a chance to really see how they fit in with the surrounding buildings. From first glance the wave roof may well be too domineering for the area. I'm not sure about covering the whole area between King Street and the concourse either - it's important part of the walk way is covered so that it's possible to get to the platform dry, without a massive structure blocking out all sunlight.
My biggest worry though is the impact these plans might have on the tram sheds and remaining open space in front of them next to the station. In the Mayor's ideal world, this open space would become a public square, the Tram Sheds converted to low cost artist/designer residence with on site markets (as well as cafes etc). It would be a shame if this station upgrade blocked off access to the remainder of the open space in front of the sheds, or indeed took up too much of the space that could otherwise become part of a Newtown Town Square.
It's very hard to get accurate information on what the state of play is with the tram sheds - my recollection from the April meeting was that they had been sold to a developer a while ago, it had all gone pear-shaped and it was now in court. Fingers crossed that the situation can be saved.
Anyone got any more information on the tram sheds ? In a future post I will give more ideas on what I'd like to see happen there, but I'd love to get the full picture of the current situation.
And what do you think ? I'd love to see some comments.