Newcastle South Beach Skate Bowl Concerns

Filed under Council, News ~ by Press on  24 Jan 2019

Plans to build a skate bowl on Newcastle South Beach are on hold following a critical reception by coastal engineers, scientists, surf organisations, veteran surfers, and some citizens’ groups.

Pictured ~ Controversial proposal to build structure on beach beyond existing promenade (dotted line)

The surfing community is concerned about its effect on wave patterns, erosion, and sceptical about the bowl’s ability to survive storm swells, that in the past have resulted in sand being completely lost from the beach.

Coastal engineer Peter Evans said the Coastal Management Act aimed to protect and preserve beaches and doubted how legitimate consent could be granted for the bowl’s proposed location.

Sydney University coastal geomorphologist, Professor Andrew Short, said the bowl would be a hazard to anyone walking along the beach in heavy weather, would essentially cut the beach in half, impede lifeguards’ views of the southern end of the beach, increase beach erosion and be subject to direct wave attack. [1]

Criticism of the bowl included doubts regarding the construction expense of a structure that must withstand cyclonic seas, or the impediment of water and sand accumulating in the enclosed bowl. Others were concerned with the continuing loss of public space to “recreational sports,” similar to the recent commandeering of large segments of Foreshore Park and Camp Shortland for track and pit lane of the annual Newcastle 500 Supercar race.

City of Newcastle said it will review the location of the proposed skate bowl following community consultation in December on the latest stage of the Bathers Way project. Many respondents surveyed on the Newcastle Beach Bathers Way section expressed concerns about the bowl’s location on the beach.

The Bathers Way – Newcastle Beach is the largest and most complex stage of the Bathers Way project,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

Changes in State Government legislation, which came into effect in July 2018 for development in coastal areas, also means the planning pathway to approval is uncertain. At the least, additional assessment criteria would be required meaning the project would be under continued uncertainty for possibly another twelve months.

Given this uncertainty and the community concern, the sensible action from Council is to re-examine the location of the skate bowl, with a view to potentially delivering the project within the existing footprint. This would enable the skate bowl to proceed but without it being located on the beach itself,” she said.

Currently the project timeline expects that design documentation could continue until the end of this financial year. The construction is scheduled to commence in 2019/20 and take up to two years to complete.”

Newcastle Beach drop-in sessions, concerns were raised regarding some aspects of the skate bowl design, mirroring the results of an online survey.

A total of 191 of the 335 people surveyed opposed the project, citing the skate bowl’s protrusion onto Newcastle Beach as their main concern.

The City will now undertake a review of the placement of the skate bowl to address community feedback, and enable the project to progress.

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