Southport Chamber Boss calls for CBD Master Plan

For over 110 years, the Southport Chamber of Commerce have believed in the potential of Southport as a strong central business district. This belief has not waivered.

For over 110 years, the Southport Chamber of Commerce have believed in the potential of Southport as a strong central business district. This belief has not waivered.

During my time on the Board of the Southport Chamber, and in the past two years as President of the organisation, I have seen tremendous commercial and residential growth and the re-emergence of a thriving business heart. At the start of the 2020 financial year, we had 53 members. Today, the Southport Chamber is the Gold Coast CBD's leading industry body with a membership base of 388 businesses.

We have seen Southport benefit from enormous investment. The Queensland Government has committed $60 million to the Southport Spit Master Plan’s implementation, delivering community infrastructure projects and the release of undeveloped land for new and exciting development opportunities.

The Broadwater Parklands has undergone a series of substantial, multi-million-dollar revamps and now proudly stand as a world-class community and cultural parkland, spanning an impressive three kilometers.

Southport’s 200ha Health and Knowledge Precinct, home to 15,000 jobs and 20,000 students, is quickly becoming a global business destination recognised for transforming lives through healthcare innovation, new knowledge and next-generation technologies.

In the Lumina Commercial Precinct alone, we have seen significant private sector investment from developers Evans Long, Niecon, Trilogy, NorthWest Healthcare Properties and Infinite Aged Care – all in Southport, all committed.

These are incredible assets within our city.

Within the Southport CBD, we’re seeing a different story. We’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development that have failed to be realised. We’ve got land-banking. We’ve got land values so high it’s no longer commercially viable to buy and develop.

We’ve got a significant lack of quality commercial floor plates, with real estate agents telling me they’ve got enough rental interest to lease a 10-story building tomorrow.

So where to from here? With the Priority Development Area currently under review, we need to have an honest conversation about what worked, what didn’t work as expected, what some of the unintended outcomes were, and most importantly – what we can do to positively shape the CBD moving forward.

For Southport to realise its true potential in the next decade, we need a catalyst to get things moving. To look forward, we must first look at where we are right now. I truly believe we need a Council-led, State-supported Southport CBD Master Plan with bipartisan support like we have seen work so well with the Health and Knowledge Precinct and Spit Masterplan. With the right people around the table, the right conversations being held, and a shared understanding of the true problem at hand, we will then have a baseline to build a new blueprint for Southport.

Without a masterplan, we lack a shared vision and have no chance for coordinated action moving forward. With one, we have a stronger proposition to attract investment - which is the last piece of the puzzle for Southport to realise its true potential.

Ariana Margetts
President
Southport Chamber of Commerce

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