Cities focus a local boost

During the past four years, the Property Council has worked closely with our members, Townsville City Council and the Townsville Chamber of Commerce, on strategies to revitalise Townsville’s CBD and reinvigorate the local economy.

While the council has implemented a number of initiatives in recent years – such as the development incentives program, the new City Plan and the Waterfront Priority Development Area – recent announcements from both the State and Federal governments will see a greater focus placed on the importance of our cities from all levels of government.

The appointment of Australia’s first-ever federal minister for cities could represent a new opportunity for Townsville to convert some of the urban infrastructure projects still sitting on the community’s wish list into productivity generators for the city.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s recent appointment of Jamie Briggs as Minister for Cities and the Built Environment bodes well for future federal funding of key citybuilding projects.

The Prime Minister has recognised the importance of supporting urban developments, declaring that “liveable, vibrant cities are absolutely critical to our prosperity”.

In her address to the Property Council in Brisbane two weeks ago, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk outlined that her government considered the Townsville stadium project a priority, and restated that she had submitted a request to the Federal Government’s infrastructure assessment body to consider the proposal in future priority lists.

Although social infrastructure has not yet been considered for federal funding through this process, the message coming out of the Turnbull Government is that it is ready to start considering urban revitalisation projects.

The renewed attention from the Federal Government comes at a time when the State Government is increasing potential avenues of project funding. The Queensland Government has established a $59 million fund to invest in “catalytic infrastructure”, which has the potential to unlock further development opportunities.

This funding would require proponents or local governments to co-invest between 10 and 50 per cent of the cost of a project in order to receive funding on an interest-free basis, to be repaid over time.

In order to access this funding, projects must be ready to begin construction within 12 months.

During her address to the Property Council, the Premier also reaffirmed her commitment to the delivery of a State Infrastructure Plan within one year of taking office (February 2016).

This plan will provide much-needed certainty to the development industry – and the community – regarding the Government’s infrastructure planning and funding priorities for the years ahead.

If the renewed state and federal focus on cities and the delivery of infrastructure can be converted into solid commitments, with the stadium project ready to go, the Townsville community stands to benefit from significant job creation and urban revitalisation opportunities for many years to come.