Newcastle City Council is planning works which could prevent the return of Supercars to the streets of the city's East End.
Under the so-called ‘rehabilitation' plans, the section of track linking Turn 10 to the Turn 11 hairpin through a park known as ‘Camp Shortland' would be removed, while permanent roundabouts and raised pedestrian crossings would be built where temporary installations are currently used in order to facilitate racing.
As yet, there is no word on when the works would take place, and council has not ruled out a return of the Newcastle 500 in 2025 and beyond.
However, according to the Newcastle Herald, a council spokesperson said, “Prior to the final Newcastle 500 under the five-year agreement held in March 2023, City of Newcastle prepared and lodged a concept landscape rehabilitation plan for Camp Shortland with the Heritage Council of NSW.
“This included indicative details around the removal of civil works associated with the race, including the temporary roadway through Camp Shortland, the implementation of interpretation panels and park furniture, additional tree planting and the reinstatement of paths and lawn areas within this site.”
While the Newcastle East Street Circuit is indeed comprised primarily of public streets, a short section of bitumen was laid through Camp Shortland in order to link two sections of car park for the purpose of creating the race track.
The eventual “removal of civil works associated with the race and the reinstatement of the parkland” is a condition of the Heritage Council approval for the event, per its September 2022 meeting, and was to have been lodged within six months of approval.
Council's plans will be sent to the Heritage Council for feedback, after which community consultation would take place before “progressing to the final design stage and implementation.”
When ‘implementation' would occur is unknown.
As noted above, the ‘Concept Final Landscape Rehabilitation Plan' was to have been lodged within six months of the heritage approval which was granted in September 2022, and would be approved by the Heritage Council by February 2024 (or the second event in the approval cycle; whichever comes first).
However, those requirements were imposed as part of the heritage approval granted from 2023 to 2027 anyway, and hence the moves to (re)install permanent traffic islands is the more significant aspect of council's broader plans.
Again, though, when that happens remains to be seen.
“The temporary roundabouts and pedestrian crossings located elsewhere within the race precinct will be replaced with permanent road safety structures, with the work to be scheduled as part of City of Newcastle's ongoing roadworks program,” the spokesperson said, according to the Newcastle Herald.
Despite the local factors that continue to mount against it, the Newcastle 500 cannot be ruled out from making a return to the Supercars calendar in 2025.
Even up to the time that it was called off for 2024, it retained the support of the state Labor government yet, ironically, was caught up in an impasse whereby the local council, on which Labor also enjoys a majority, refused to make a decision on the event due to the inconsistency of an interim, one-year funding proposal with the five-year option upon which community consultation was predicated.
Background contained in the agenda for Newcastle's most recent council meeting stated, “Should the NSW Government and Supercars Australia propose any multi-year Supercars event in Newcastle beyond 2024, it would be subject to community consultation, a resolution of Council, and new agreements with both parties.”