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A valuation prepared for the Hunter Development Corporation states the land is worth about $770,000 if an act of parliament is needed to allow the rail line to be ripped up, documents tendered to the Court of Appeal state.
However, if the state government is not required to pass such an act and the land is transferred from the its current owner RailCorp to HDC, then it would be worth about $3.8million.
The valuation was tendered as part of the appeal against a Supreme Court ruling that an act of parliament is required to allow the rail line to be removed.
The removal of the rail line is part of the state government’s plan to rejuvenate Newcastle’s central business district, including the installation of a light rail service to replace trains that now run west of Hamilton.
The government has argued that HDC is not bound by the state’s transport legislation because it is not a ‘‘rail infrastructure owner’’ as defined by the legislation and should therefore be allowed to compulsorily acquire the land then rip up the tracks.
Community group Save Our Rail opposes such a plan.
About 780metres of wiring has already been removed between Newcastle and Hamilton, but the government has promised to return it if it loses the appeal.
When HDC’s barrister was asked at last week’s hearing whether redevelopment plans for the corridor included the sale of the land, HDC’s barrister, Tim Robertson SC, said ‘‘it may do’’.
Documents tendered included a timetable that stated that the government previously hoped to start construction on the light rail line and the Wickham interchange in February this year. It hoped to have the interchange open by the last quarter of 2016 and light rail running by the third quarter of 2017.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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