Cooks Hill - Council Street renewal

Page hero image We are renewing Council Street, Cooks Hill, between Darby Street and Bruce Street. This project includes significant infrastructure upgrades, which aim to improve stormwater drainage for the street, as well as the greater Cooks Hill and The Hill catchments.

We will also upgrade the footpath, roadway, kerb and gutter and plant new street trees. The layout of the street will be adjusted to improve traffic circulation and safety and provide additional parking.
 

Work includes

  • Upsizing and replacing stormwater drainage
  • New road and footpath pavement
  • Removal of existing road block
  • One way traffic flow from Darby Street to Bruce Street
  • Road blisters for traffic calming
  • A separated cycle lane and bike racks
  • New street trees and landscaped vegetation
  • New street lighting, including a smart pole.

Benefits include

  • Reduced flood risk to residents and improved overland flow of water
  • Safer pedestrian and cycle movements
  • Additional 7 car spaces (49 total) to support Darby Street businesses
  • 17 new street trees
  • Safer access for waste services
  • Improved street lighting.

Project update

Tree removal (stage 1) ocurred in early 2018 in preparation for stage 2 works, which commenced in early 2019.

Stage 2 involves moving significant power, gas, sewer and watermain assets within the street. Relocation of the sewer, water and gas mains is now complete, and power and lighting work has started.


 Stage 2 project update - 2 January 2019 (pdf)

What to expect during stage 2

  • Work hours will be between 7am and 6pm
  • Road closures and detours as required
  • Reduced on-street car parking
  • Some noise from machinery
  • Increased truck movements
  • Limitied utilities outages during planned shutdowns

Stage 3 - Civil construction

Stage 3 civil construction is on track to start in mid-2019 and will comprise complete renewal of the street. This stage will be carried out by both our civil construction team and contractors, with work starting between Bruce and Dawson streets and finishing in the section between Dawson and Darby streets.

More information about construction impacts will be provided to the community before stage 3 commences.

The Council Street renewal project is due for completion in late 2020, and we will attempt to accelerate construction wherever possible.

The project will extend around the corner into Darby Street to connect the stormwater drainage. The full upgrade of Darby Street will be  completed as part of the future Darby Street Local Centre project.
 

Community information session summary

Cooks Hill community were invited to a drop-in session on Tuesday 16 January 2018 at Newcastle Library to provide information on the variety of projects that are planned, or are being implemented in the area. The nine City Officers who attended had some informative conversations with more than 100 members of the community.  View the community information session summary - 25 January 2018 (pdf)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why were the street trees removed?The existing street trees were removed in preparation for civil construction.

  • There was significant interaction between tree roots, road, footpath, kerb, gutter, stormwater drainage infrastructure and houses in Council Street.
  • Tree roots have created issues with stormwater drainage, parking and trip hazards for pedestrians. The trees experienced repeated impacts from motor vehicles, causing damage that can create long-term decay and degrades the structure of the tree roots. Vehicles may also get damaged by parking on the tree root leading to insurance claims.Despite the fact that most trees appeared green and healthy, many of the trees had become increasingly unstable due to decaying and poorly developed root systems. Tree roots in Council Street experienced many impacts from utility maintenance works underground (gas, water and telecommunications). These trees were at risk of falling onto properties.
  • Council assessed the possibility of relocating or reconfiguring the road works to avoid significant injury to the trees. As the stormwater drainage upgrade and road renewal works could not avoid significant excavation within the trees stabilising root zone, the trees posed an unacceptable risk for visitors, residents and property in Cooks Hill if left in place.  

What new trees will be planted in Council Street?

  • New trees and landscaping are incorporated in the renewal project.
  • An independent landscape architect was engaged by the City to select suitable tree species options for Council Street.
  • Council Street is a narrow road with two-storey buildings with minimal to no property setback from the boundary. The combination of these neighbourhood attributes creates a ‘canyon effect’ which narrows the available space for trees. The landscape architect recommendations were to adopt deciduous tree species, ultimately providing shade in summer and sunshine in winter.
  • The final tree species for the street were chosen based on their suitability to the environment. Residents with trees in the front of their property chose the 17 new street trees being planted in Council Street.
  • The trees chosen for Council Street include Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia ‘tuscarora’ and  Lagerstroemia ‘natchez'),  Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ - ‘Chanticleer’ Callery Pear and Nyssa sylvatica - Black Gum.

What options were considered to improve road safety when renewing Council Street?

Community feedback in 2015 indicated traffic management was a high priority for Cooks Hill residents. In response, Council Street traffic management was investigated as part of the stormwater drainage renewal project. Several concept options to improve traffic management were initially assessed by the City. These included:

Option 1: One way Darby to Bruce Street
  • One way traffic, west bound
  • 45 degree parking north side. Parallel south side
  • Road block removed
  • Dedicated cycleway (north side).
Option 2: Combined one way & two way
Eastern end (Dawson to Darby streets)
  • One way traffic, west bound.
  • 45 degree parking north side. Parallel south side.
  • Road block removed
  • Dedicated cycleway (north side).
Western end (Bruce to Dawson streets)
  • Two way traffic
  • Parallel parking both sides
  • No dedicated cycleway.
Option 3: Two way from Darby to Bruce Street
  • Two way traffic
  • Parallel parking both sides
  • Retain road block
  • No dedicated cycleway. 
Option 4: Eastbound one-way traffic and angled parking
The eastbound traffic flow was not considered as an option as it would funnel more cars onto Darby Street which would be detrimental to traffic flow. However it is included to show the option was analysed.

How was the decision made for traffic flow along Council Street?

  • The four options above were presented to the Newcastle City Traffic Committee (NCTC), with representatives from Roads and Maritime Service, NSW Police, State and Local MPs and City of Newcastle. From this meeting, option 1 and 2 were preferred, as they offered the safest outcome for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.
  • Option 1 and 2 were presented to Councillors in April 2016, with a recommendation for option 1 to be endorsed. This option was in keeping with the option preference developed at a prior workshop for affected residents.
  • Councillors requested both options to be placed on Public Exhibition.
  • A Public Exhibition process was held for the change in traffic movements along Council Street, with 13 submissions. The majority of submissions supported option 1.
  • Following the Public Exhibition process, option 1 was recommended to the elected Councillors at the 26 July 2016 Ordinary Council Meeting. During this meeting, Councillors voted to endorse option 1.
  • Additional community feedback from the public exhibition was incorporated into the designs, where feasible. Unfortunately not all suggestions could be accommodated.

What benefits does the one-way proposal provide?

The one-way (both end) proposal was assessed by the NCTC and City of Newcastle to provide a safer environment for pedestrians, increased parking for residents and businesses, a separated cycle way, and a greater number of streets trees can be replanted compared to the two-way design. 

Key safety benefits:

  • U-turns at the Darby Street and Council Street intersection would be difficult for the one-way configuration. Over a four hour period during the traffic study, the consultant witnessed 43 cars perform an unsafe, illegal U-turn at this intersection. The City considers the one-way proposal a key component in eliminating any risk of harm to pedestrians from vehicles on the corner of Darby Street and Council Street.
  • A separated cycle lane, between the parking bays and footpath, provides a safer alternative for cyclists and helps reduce congestion and pollution in Newcastle.
  • One-way vehicle movements provides shorter distances for pedestrians to cross the road and provides better line of sight to oncoming traffic at intersections.

Why is the mid-block road closure being removed?

A concept was developed which retained the road block, however the following safety concerns meant the concept was not recommended by the Newcastle City Traffic Committee, representing NSW Police, Local and State MPs, Roads and Maritime Services and City of Newcastle.

Safety and economic concerns:

  • No separated cycle lane
  • The turning circle for vehicles would not meet the City’s criteria for turning radius. This would result in service vehicles (e.g. waste) being unable to make safe turning movements. Service vehicles would be required to reverse, increasing risk to vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.
  • To upgrade the existing road block would result in the loss of 13 car spaces. The one-way proposal incorporates 7 new car spaces. Residents had expressed parking as a high priority for Cooks Hill.
  • Unsafe U-turns would continue at the Darby Street and Council Street intersection.

Will the traffic volumes increase if the mid-block road closure is removed from Council Street?

  • An independent traffic consultant was engaged to provide a traffic study and analysis for the removal of the road closure. The traffic study and analysis did not indicate a significant increase in traffic using Council Street due to the one-way westbound direction.
  • The independent study noted traffic northbound from Darby Street turning left will be low, as it is anticipated to only be traffic wishing to use the carpark, bottle shop or to find parking between Darby and Dawson streets.
  • Southbound traffic on Darby Street wishing to turn into Council Street will be discouraged as it is faster to continue straight and then turn right into Bull Street, as there are no stop/give-way signs along this route.

What are the traffic impacts during construction?

  • During construction, access to Council Street will be restricted for certain activities including the removal of trees and the relocation/installation of utilities
  • To minimise impacts on road users, a detour using the surrounding road network would be in place for local traffic during this time. Access to residential properties and businesses will be maintained throughout the construction phase; however there may be short delays due to certain construction activities preventing access
  • Road users in the surrounding streets are likely to experience minor disruptions and temporary delays throughout the construction period
  • Minor disruptions to pedestrian flow are also anticipated at different times during construction
  • Detailed information will be provided to residents and businesses closer to the time
  • A Traffic Management Plan will be in place throughout works. Direct liaison with works supervisor will be available to residents and businesses throughout the work period.

Will there be changes to car parking spaces?

  • The north side of Council Street will provide 45 degree rear angled parking.
  • The south side of Council Street will maintain parallel parking.
  • The changes will result in seven additional car parking spaces for residents and businesses in the precinct.
  • The time limit for car spaces on Council Street is anticipated to remain the same, however will be analysed by the Newcastle City Traffic Committee. Information will be made available if the time limits change.

How have environmental impacts been assessed?

  • A Review of Environmental Factors (REF) for the proposed works was completed, and addresses all relevant legislation under the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW).  The REF reviews all statutory requirements on the proposed works to ensure the works comply with all legal considerations prior to approval.
  • A Flora and Fauna Assessment for the Council Street project has been prepared by independent consultants. The Flora and Fauna Assessment presents an assessment of the habitat changes to ensure the works outcomes protect the City’s environmental values. The Flora and Fauna assessment addresses all statutory requirements under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW). 

What communication has been provided to residents?

  • A Communication Plan for Council Street project has been implemented to ensure effected residents have been actively involved in the design consultation process.
  • Initially a series of street corner discussions were held across Cooks Hill to increase awareness of stormwater issues and solutions that can be effectively delivered by residents within their streets, including Council Street.
  • Two workshops were conducted with Council Street residents to gather their values and aspirations for their neighbourhood and discuss constraints in delivering project objectives.
  • The preferred design option was publicly exhibited covering stormwater drainage, traffic calming, pedestrian and cycling assets, parking alignments, tree scale and locations, landscaping elements and street lighting.
  • Two community meetings have been held post exhibition to inform affected residents of design progress, as well as a number of letters distributed to residents providing updates on the project.
  • A community session was held for all Cooks Hill residents to provide information on all infrastructure projects in the area.
  • Residents with trees out the front of their property were sent voting forms to choose their preferred tree species as per Council guidelines.
  • Flyers were distributed to Council Street and surrounding residents and businesses prior to stage 1 and 2 work commencing and ongoing project updates will be provided.
  • Further information will be provided to all Cooks Hill residents on the future plans to improve their suburb.

It's still quicker to drive up Bull Street


Image Gallery

Artist's impression of Council Street, viewed from Darby Street, including separated cycle lane
Artist's impression of Council Street, viewed from Dawson Street, including separated cycle lane
Artist's impression of Council Street, viewed from Darby Street