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NEWCASTLE'S rail debate has returned to City Hall, with a Newcastle councillor alleging lord mayor Jeff McCloy overemphasised the role of the line's removal in $300 million of investment at a summit last month.
Greens councillor Therese Doyle has challenged Cr McCloy's comments, saying she believed the planned changes to the inner-city's rail network had done little to bolster developer confidence in the city.
Cr McCloy's comments, made at an urban regeneration summit in mid-July, focused on the city's transformation.
The Newcastle Herald reported Cr McCloy said of the decision to remove heavy rail and replace it with light rail: "I have a list in front of me now of two pages of DAs [that have been] recently approved or are going to be approved projects based on that announcement for the city."
Cr Doyle said she had examined the list the lord mayor had referenced and argued several developments included were in areas including Cooks Hill, Mayfield and Elermore Vale.
Cr Doyle said her analysis showed the lion's share of the development applications were lodged with the council before NSW Treasurer Mike Baird unveiled plans for light rail in June.
"[The lord mayor] was making general statements but the one piece of evidence to back it up didn't hold water," Cr Doyle said.
"I would say that [signs of inner-city development] have nothing to do with the rail and a lot to do with the dynamism and the creative workers we have in the city."
The removal of Newcastle's heavy rail line between Wickham and Newcastle stations was officially announced in December last year.
Responding to Cr Doyle's analysis, Cr McCloy reaffirmed his excitement about looming inner-city projects he expected would be "catalysing renewal in the city".
"You only need to look at the changing face of the city now to see confidence building," Cr McCloy said.
"Removal of heavy rail and other state and local government announcements made over recent years should only accelerate this."
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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