The development approvals process requires an overhaul, according to Adam Grbcic.
The sales specialist for Kollosche Commercal has claimed that despite its plethora of offerings, which include a legal precinct, TAFE and a light rail network, the Southport central business district is not thriving, despite the Southport Priority Development Area (PDA) creating avenues for fast-tracked approvals.
“We need a new approach, because it [Southport PDA] clearly hasn’t worked as intended,” he said.
“What has happened is plenty of land banking by developers but little evidence of tower plans making it beyond the planning phase.
“Meanwhile some would be developers have also used the PDA to fast-track approvals with the intention of selling the site with a DA in place because there is a perception that it makes the site more valuable.”
Part of Mr Grbcic’s proposed changes would include feasibility studies for planned towers work, which would reduce the likelihood of projects not being built due to financial constraints.
Mr Grbcic believes a new method, which would vet developers to determine their seriousness about project delivery, is needed imminently to revamp and revitalise the CBD.
He is urging the Gold Coast City Council to mandate developers lodging applications within the PDA to submit a “feasibility/needs analysis”, which could include construction costs, to prove the viability of the project.
“There is no point approving 200 units on a site where the owner doesn’t have the financial capacity or intention to deliver the project in the first place,” he said.
“When the development cost and demand for these proposals are highlighted, it will often demonstrate the highest and best use is not a high-rise residential tower.
“This would reduce the workload for already overstretched council officers while helping to ensure the DAs being approved are feasible and realistic.”
In addition to these requirements, Mr Grbcic has also suggested the Gold Coast City Council and Southport landowners could implement further strategies to increase volume and validity of projects.
These could include reducing the period that development approvals remain in force and increasing the DA costs to ensure non-financially viable proposals are not introduced to the council.
“Landowners should consider repositioning their assets to retail, office or mixed-use which would include removing demolition clauses that act as a barrier to long-term tenants who tend to invest in capital upgrades and fit outs for their businesses,” he said.
“Alternatively, landowners inserting demolition clauses could look at either inserting this into the second or third term of a lease and offsetting the impact with a relocation clause or consider reimbursing fit out costs if the demolition clause is enforced.
“This achieves the twin aims of improving the property’s value while also preventing it from becoming a disused development site.”
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