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.


  1. I personally really like the look of the wave and think it would be great to see the new juxtaposed with the old, rather than as you say going faux. Let's have some big bold exciting architecture here, at the 'entrance' to newtown.
    I am worried about the vaugeness of the plans too and think that as a cost cutting measure they might not use the tramway depot office for ticketing but rather some prefab numbers by the stairs.
    As far as retail goes that's going to be determined by the market rather than any desires for quality - so probably more cafes and nail bars.
    I have been inside the tram sheds and it's a magnificent space so I do hope it gets put to use, shame that they missed the markets boat with carriage works doing this well now. I was also at the meeting in April and I have the same impressions as you to it being in dispute.
    Now i just want to see the thunderbox building tidied up, hopefully with glass walls either side so you can look through to the rail line from king street

  2. the wave structure is not a bad modern contrast, but seems almost run-of-the-mill for newtown, and won't really be the unique architectural feature which i would like to see. i also think it is too big.

  3. I reckon the tram sheds should be turned into a mini Carriageworks. One can dream...

  4. It looks alright - they have protected such heritage as is worth protecting. I reckon it will take more than a couple of curvy roofs to dominate that monstrosity of an intersection that Newtown Station faces.

  5. The real Bridget JonesSeptember 13, 2009 at 4:42 PM

    I think the Wave stucture looks horrible and I am writing to the Council to lodge my objection. I mean are we living in Manly or Noosa? No ! Perhaps Railcorp might like to introduce a man made beach and some sun lounges so that we can relax while we wait for our overdue trains (2 cancelled trains this week alone at peak hour)

  6. "Clashing Canopy Gets Thunbs Down"

    Community feedback on the Newtown Station upgrade has suggested the design of the canopy between the station and the Town Hall pub clashes with the station and streetscape. RailCorp has asked government architects for an alternative design, which should be made public by the end of the year. Work, which includes a lift, will start in May next year and is expected to finish in 2012.

    - Inner West Courier 24/11/2009

  7. I dislike the wave layout, anyone who has stood at railway square knows how terrible that type of 'wave' design is - particular in the colder and wetter months.

    Whatever design is chosen in the end I hope it will not overpower the surrounds by being too outlandish.

  8. they should stick a Tram in there somewhere...not just more heritage signage...make it a bar or somthing