Planning Approval Granted for Initial LGA Section (approx. 13 km) of the Richmond Vale Rail Trail (RVRT) - Shortland to Minmi/Fletcher via "Hexham Junction" and "Minmi Junction"
Congratulations and Thanks:
Congratulations to everyone in the Hunter Region and elsewhere who has supported the development of the Richmond Vale Rail Trail (RVRT). With planning approval now granted for the initial Newcastle LGA section of the trail (see details below), we are one step closer to making the RVRT a reality.
In particular, we would like to acknowledge the contributions of current and former planning and assessment staff at Newcastle City Council, the Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel (RPP), the primary design consultant (GHD Pty Ltd, Newcastle), the 150 individuals and groups who made written public submissions, and RVRT Inc.’s own members and supporters. Additional agencies and groups making substantial contributions include: National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Donaldson Conservation Trust (DCT), the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment (TFI), Newcastle Cycleways Movement, and the other participating local Councils (Cessnock and Lake Macquarie).
Some of our supporters were starting to become concerned that the trail might never eventuate; after all, the initial ‘Community Information Sessions’ were held in November 2016! Since then, there have been many environmental and related assessments (to better protect our coastal wetlands and reserves), and a reasonable number of design adjustments – so, it is time for a moment of celebration – before we focus on the detailed design work ahead, the next approval stages, the search for external funding, and trail construction.
Billy Metcalfe, RVRT Inc.’s President for well over 10 years, greeted the current Approval enthusiastically:
Unique Features of the RVRT:
When completed, the RVRT will comprise a multi-purpose, user-friendly, 40 km shared community pathway between Shortland and Kurri Kurri, supporting a broad range of user groups (e.g., commuting and recreational cyclists, walkers, runners, bird watchers, reduced mobility users, family and social groups).
In addition to cycling safety, health and lifestyle, and economic and tourism benefits, the RVRT will: foster linkages between metropolitan and rural communities and their attractions; facilitate access to multiple high conservation value areas that were previously inaccessible (e.g., Hunter Wetlands National Park, Pambalong Nature Reserve, Stockrington and Werakata State Conservation Areas); enhance our cultural and heritage awareness and appreciation; and provide opportunities for future regional network connections (effectively becoming the spine that links an array of Lower Hunter trails, cycleways and attractions).
Current Approval by the Regional Planning Panel (RPP):
The Hunter and Central Coast RPP held an online Public Meeting at 4pm on Wednesday, 10th November 2021 [Ref: PPSHCC-55, chaired by: Ms. Alison McCabe] to determine a Development Application by the City of Newcastle’s Infrastructure & Property Unit (DA2020/00641) for a ‘Community Facility – Pathway – “Richmond Vale Rail Trail” – (RVRT)’ [Capital Improved Value: approx. $21.4 m (for adjusted DA)].
Link to relevant documents and determination:
After further deliberations, planning Approval has now been granted for this Development Application (dated 06/12/2021), subject to 100 Conditions of Consent. This initial approval includes four trail ‘legs’, totalling approx. 13 km:
Two ‘legs’ within Newcastle LGA were temporarily removed from the current application (the Hunter Wetlands Centre connection, and the Hexham Junction to Tarro connection). These will be the subject of future applications, together with separate applications for the remaining Cessnock and Lake Macquarie LGA segments [conducted as Reviews of Environmental Factors]. It is also anticipated that there will be future connections to: the University of Newcastle (and the wider cycleways network); proposed residential developments around Minmi; Blue Gum Hills Regional Park; and to the M1 Extension to Raymond Terrace.
Thanks for your interest in the RVRT.
Please contact our Secretary & Treasurer, Leigh Gibbens, for further information or comment.