As I mentioned in my first Column for this year, Council has developed a key draft policy aimed at helping to further revitalise the CBD.
The draft Coffs City Centre Development Incentive Policy was adopted by Council in March and is currently out for public comment until April 30 2019. I’d urge you all to take a look and give us your feedback by going to our Have Your Say website – https://haveyoursay.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/
Essentially, the draft Policy contains opportunities for developers to be exempt from developer contribution charges, if they build residential or tourist accommodation in the city centre. The draft policy also proposes that the period of exemption is to run for two years from the date the policy is approved, or until a maximum cap (incentive allowance) of $2,500,000 is reached, whichever occurs first.
Development contributions are payments made by developers to enable Council to provide the infrastructure, public amenities and services we need as the number of new residents and businesses grows. Developer charges are also placed on new development to help with the funding of the associated water and sewer infrastructure required by the growing population.
The kind of development we’re looking at targeting with the draft Policy 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.
The reason for this is that 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 seen as 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 current upgrade of City Square itself and the planned new Cultural and Civic Space.
The new policy, once finalised, will dovetail very well with our existing Business Incentive Policy, which already offers 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.
Similar schemes are happening at a local government level in other regions in NSW and we’re hopeful that our new policies will begin to see some very positive results in the coming years.
Coffs Harbour is most definitely open for business.