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Greater Focus on Visitor Economy Infrastructure and Planning Controls Needed

Release Date: 30/11/2017
Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes has called for greater focus on visitor economy infrastructure needs and ensuring planning controls and processes facilitate appropriate development.
“Reflecting on the recently announced Doma DA on Honeysuckle which includes a hotel component, the Cruise facility upgrade and ambitions across the region to ramp up activity in the visitor economy, including a convention centre, it is time we looked critically at our hotel and tourism support infrastructure. This is particularly relevant to hotels to make sure the region and its attractions are equipped to accommodate future demands of the visitor economy.
“The Chamber has noted previously that notwithstanding there are currently two hotels being constructed in Newcastle, the potential for hotel development is being constrained as hotel developers are not able to compete with residential and commercial developers when it comes to purchasing sites.
“The mixed-use formula that Doma and the Holiday Inn (on the former City Holden site) are using, works on large sites but the city does not have an unlimited supply of such sites. We know Lake Macquarie and Maitland also believe there are opportunities in their LGAs but they will be constrained from being realised for the same reasons.
“We repeat our call made to the Regional Development and a Global Sydney inquiry that we must look at land use controls in Development Control Plans and precinct strategies, as well as consider incentivising hotel development in suitable areas or otherwise risk running down the dividend on existing stock and potentially witness hotels becoming more expensive due to room shortages.
“This is arguably the case in Sydney where relevant to recent growth of commercial and residential buildings there has been little new hotel development with the consequence of soaring prices even at non-peak times.
“The planning processes to address this are cumbersome and time consuming and we need to be equipping ourselves with the capacity to respond in future years, therefore the review and consideration process needs to start now,” Bob said.

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