A wander through the streets of Inner Newcastle a week or so back brought home the dire consequences of the light rail project on the business operators in the area.
It is patently obvious that the elongated undertaking is having a disastrous effect on shop owners; those positioned along the light rail streets and those in nearby streets which are all suffering from a lack of customers making their way into the city.
No need to ask the shopkeepers how they are are trading. A quick glance at closed doors and the absence of people on the Hunter Street footpath tells the full tale of woe.
An advertising campaign on NBN TV, starring Newcastle Rugby League legend Paul ‘The Chief’ Harragon, is aimed at promoting the struggling CBD which is suffering enormously from the rail works and the reduced parking. It’s a clever advert and has a worthy objective, and one can only hope that it achieves the desired results.That is, attracting people back to the city which has been partly abandoned in the name of progress.
Realistically, the big conglomerates at Charlestown Square, Westfield Kotara, Stockland Glendale, Stockland Green Hills and other major business centres must be rubbing their hands together in delight at the associated problems with the changes happening in Newcastle city.
Strangely enough, it’s not just Newcastle hurting when it comes to light rail projects. Retail outlets in the city of Sydney, and nearby suburbs such as Kensington and Randwick, are discussing class actions against the NSW Government for the disruption to their businesses.
The retailers in Parramatta, with a powerful ally in Radio broadcaster Alan Jones, are already creating huge waves and the new light rail project planned for this city is still just that – in the planning phase.
Back to Newcastle…and we can only hope that when the light rail development is finished that shoppers flock to the inner city cafes, restaurants, retail stores and hotels in droves, and that the city regains its vibrance as a fast-moving, exciting metropolis.