Newcastle development a tussle between commercial and residential uses

By , 25/04/2020 19:38

THANKS, in the main, to the bad behaviour of a few smarties, and buoyed by the negative publicity at the ICAC, there was a time not so long ago when nobody wanted to be known as a property developer.
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But as the Newcastle Herald has argued before, property developers are the people whobuild our homes, our offices, our industrial workplaces. Their contribution to our economy is essential, especially at a time like now, where Newcastle is going through a once-in-a-lifetime urban overhaul which –despite the understandable angst it is causing those caught in its midst –should set up the CBD for the next 40 years or more.

At a Property Council of lunch at City Hall on Friday, Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and a Colliers International representative, Peter Macadam, spoke about the opportunities and the challenges facing the Newcastle CBD and its property market.

By any measure, the city is experiencing a building boom. Construction cranes are dotting the skyline in unprecedented numbers. If the city hasn’t changed its shape already, it will certainly have a different look and feel in the west end if the redevelopment of the Store site results in the sort of 90-metre tower block –or even two 90-metre buildings –that Cr Nelmes was championing on Friday. The Store site has the potential to be the biggest development ever seen in the CBD, and with a mixture of commercial development on its lower floors, and apartments in its reach to the sky, itwill add to the CBD’s resident population, and enhance its business base.

But it’s the ratio between the two –and the degree to which residential development is seemingly outpacing commercial construction –that has some in the property industry concerned.

As Cr Nelmes remarked on Friday, we need to maintain a certain density of commercial development in the city if Newcastle is to have a CBD in anything but name. Despite the plethora of cranes, developers say it’s very hard to make purely non-residential developments stack up in the city.Land prices andthe competition that Newcastle faces in attracting new employers –having lost many regional branch offices in recent decades –are just two of the reasons why.

Even so, there is no doubting we have achieved much in recent years. The job now is to attract more bigemployers, companies whose presence would add to Newcastle’s cacheas the state’s second city.

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