At the first Council Meeting of 2019, Coffs Harbour’s Councillors unanimously agreed to move forward with the development of a key draft policy aimed at helping further revitalise the CBD.
Essentially, the draft Coffs City Centre Development Incentive Policy will contain opportunities for developers to be exempt from developer contribution charges, if they build residential or tourist accommodation in the city centre. The kind of development we’re looking at includes residential projects that contain four or more large units, or tourist accommodation and shop-top housing projects that contain at least one large unit.
Having people live and stay in the CBD means that there is activity outside of business hours – and having that mix has a proven track record in stimulating economic activity in places within cities that are mainly considered to be mostly retail or business locations.
Reinvigorating the CBD as a social, cultural and economic hub for the whole community is a major focus of Coffs Harbour City Council and a number of ongoing projects are happening with that in mind – for example the upgrade of City Square itself and the new Cultural and Civic Space.
The impetus behind this latest move came from a motion put forward last year by Councillor Paul Amos and the new policy will dovetail very well with our existing Business Incentive Policy.
The current Business Incentive Policy already offers real, tangible discounts to businesses – right across the local government area, not just the CBD – that are seeking to set up new premises or expand existing ones.
These incentives include:
- An Employment Generating incentive: if the proposed business development will create jobs across the local government area, it may be entitled to a 40% discount off the Developer Contribution for business premise development.
- Eligible Business enterprise: a DA related to the establishment or development of a small business in a rented premise may attract a developer contributions discount depending on the size of the development. For example, converting an existing retail space to office space, or vice versa. This incentive can be used cumulatively with the Employment Generating incentive.
- Developer Charges Incentive: provides an opportunity to reduce upfront establishment costs, such as developer charges for sewer and water, for all commercial and industrial development where there is to be a change of use. For example, a clothing retail space being converted into a dry-cleaning business which will have a higher water usage.
- Enhanced Deferred Payments Incentives: someone developing new or existing premises can defer the payment of the required Developer Contributions to help reduce the initial costs of establishing or growing the business.
The final draft Coffs City Centre Development Incentive Policy is expected to come to Council before Easter and, if the Councillors are happy with the content, it will then go out for public comment and input. Please keep your eyes peeled!