The Laman Street - Civic Precinct area provides important cultural and recreational spaces for Newcastle residents and visitors to the city. This includes the city branch library, the Art Gallery and Civic Park, and is bounded by Hunter, Darby, Queen and Auckland Streets.
The Laman Street/Civic Park design framework was considered by Council on Tuesday 5 July 2011. Council resolved
"Council note the submissions and survey results received.
Council endorse the draft design principles for the draft Laman Street - Civic Precinct Design Framework with the addition of the words and cyclists to design principal G after the word pedestrians.
Council endorse an update of the Civic and Cultural Precinct Masterplan to include the design principles for the Laman Street - Civic precinct."
Design principles endorsed by Council to guide future planning for the Laman Street - Civic Precinct are:
- Preserve the green heart functions
- Improve heritage interpretation
- Preserve memorial sanctity
- Provide opportunities for families
- Enhance community safety
- Continue the cultural precinct as a meeting place
- Prioritise pedestrian connectivity and
- Promote public art opportunities.
Ten key themes were identified in response to submissions and survey results
- High value placed on existing figs in any re-development concepts (highly valued 'green cathedral' and sense of place)
- Retain and strengthen the Civic Axis (between City Hall and the War Memorial Cultural Centre)
- Focus on the integration of Laman Street with Civic Park
- Plant additional trees and soft landscaping to improve shade amenity and 'green heart' values of Civic Park
- Retain and interpret the existing Memorial spaces with Civic Park
- Invest in low level interventions rather than large scale re-development of the precinct (signage, furniture and irrigation systems)
- Improve maintenance regimes (perceptions of tired or worn out areas)
- Introduce innovative public art as both play and cultural themes
- Focus on facilities that support safe family use of the precinct
- Convert Laman Street (between Dawson and Darby Streets) to a pedestrian precinct Following extensive consultation and a two day design process Council was presented with a draft design framework for community comment.
Council hosted a two day intensive design workshop on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 March 2010 to investigate the options for Newcastle’s Laman Street – Civic Precinct. The workshop included independent experts such as arborists, engineers and landscape architects as well as local residents, businesses, key stakeholders and community representatives. Participants met again on 8 April to share findings from the workshop and a final report went to Council for consideration in May.
Download presentations from the workshop
- Workshop outline (790kb)
- Introduction by Scape (3.9Mb)
- Background presentations by technical experts (5.1Mb)
- Day two outline (383kb)
Newcastle Voice coordinated a survey of the community to hear about their vision for the precinct. Read the results of the community consultation.
There was also an open forum Councillor workshop on 27 July to provide information to Councillors about the full range of options for the Laman Street trees (including an expansion of the three design workshop outcomes: retention of the trees, staged removal and whole of street replacement).
The draft Laman Street - Civic Precinct Design Framework was placed on public exhibition from 20 December 2010 to 28 February 2011, following a Council resolution dated 14 December 2010. Thirty five written submissions were received from individuals and one community organisation. An online survey was also undertaken during the exhibition period, open to Newcastle Voice participants and the general community (paper copies were made available at all libraries). A total of 807 responses were received.
Of the suggested changes in the precinct, the top three responses for each sub-precinct are listed below (with the percentage figure indicating the level of support):
Civic Park: East End
- Retain pathway connections to Hunter Street and Darby Street (92%)
- Plant new trees to provide shade and structure to park spaces (85%)
- New public furniture (84%)
Civic Park: West End
- Strong pedestrian connection from Civic Park to Hunter Street (85%)
- Retain and strengthen the central axis (85%)
- New public furniture (84%)
- Investigate opening old rail underpass as a pedestrian/cycleway (78%)
- A sculpture garden as an extension of the gallery into Laman Street (70%)
- Extend and terrace Laman Street level to the park; allow additional trees (70%)
Laman Street Hills Fig Trees
A significant feature of the precinct is the archway of Hills Fig trees in Laman Street. Unfortunately, a number of studies have identified there are public safety risks with these trees. Council wants to work with the community to explore every option for the future community use of this area.