Newcastle's anticipated $94 million court has been unveiled as the New South Wales Attorney General submitted the development plans to council.
The glass-fronted, natural-light filled court is the largest development in regional NSW since colonial times, the Attorney said.
“The building … will be a reality by 2014 - a fully functional courthouse with at least 10 state-of-the-art courtrooms and a host of facilities for the legal profession, victims of crime and justice agencies,” Smith said.
The courthouse complex will comprise a podium-like structure that will wrap around the intersection of Hunter Street and Burwood Street. The upper levels of the seven-storey building will be set back from the street frontages and boundaries.
A large proportion of the building’s façade will be glass, allowing the complex to be filled with natural light.
“The design will create a welcoming atmosphere in keeping with the NSW Government’s philosophy that the justice system should be open and accessible,” Mr Smith said.
The first stage of construction is set to begin at the Burwood Wedge site in the middle of the year, following the demolition of the derelict New Fred Ash building (scheduled for completion within two months). The first stage will involve mine rectification work and the stabilisation of coal seams beneath the site. The main construction works are expected to start towards the end of 2012.
Thousands of bricks from the New Fred Ash building will be used in the construction of the new courthouse.
“This project is not just about building a future for Newcastle, it is also about acknowledging the city’s history,” Smith said.
The Member for Newcastle, Tim Owen, said the proposed Courthouse facilities were sorely needed.
“The NSW Government allocated funding for the Courthouse development in its first Budget, handed down in September 2011,’’ Owen said.
“It will not only be a vast improvement on existing facilities, but will inject new life into the Newcastle CBD through the development of world-class facilities and create jobs for the region during construction.”