Gold Coast Bulletin article, 26 July 2013


The Gold Coast’s largest business lobby group is launching a campaign to revitalise the highway strip between Broadbeach and Burleigh Heads.


The Central Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses between Surfers Paradise and Burleigh and as far west as Nerang, has won Gold Coast City Council funding for the scheme.


Town planning consultant (Director of Planit Consulting) Boyd Sargeant, who represents Broadbeach and Mermaid Beach on the Chamber board, says the “GC Strip” plan is designed to encourage Gold Coast residents to support businesses along the Gold Coast highway.


“The business strip along the Gold Coast between Broadbeach and Burleigh has been hurting since the impact of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008,” said Mr Sargeant.


“You only have to go for a drive along the highway and see the number of empty shops and commercial buildings to know the area is hurting.


“The GC Strip is designed to develop a brand for the area, lift its profile as a business destination and help revitalise businesses that are operating in the area.”


Mr Sargeant said the first stage of the program was to set up a GC Strip website, which would promote the strip as a shopping and leisure destination and to promote the businesses based along the highway.


“We have identified more than 700 businesses operating along the highway and we will be writing to all of them about the program,” he said.


“We already have the support of some of the larger, more established businesses in the area and we are hoping that more businesses get behind the scheme.”


Mr Sargeant congratulated Gold Coast Councillors Paul Taylor and Greg Betts who provided strong support for the scheme.


“I raised our concerns about the state of the business community along the Gold Coast Highway with them and they immediately offered their support,” said Mr Sargeant.


“It was refreshing to receive that level of support from the Council.”


Mr Sargeant said some sections of the business community along the Gold Coast Highway were performing exceptionally well while others were suffering badly.


“If you visit the Nobby Beach area on any weekend you will find that the restaurants and cafes are all packed and there is an exciting feel about the precinct,” he said.


“The Chamber would like to help extend that excitement and appeal all the way along the highway between Broadbeach and Burleigh.”


Mr Sargeant said that in the long term, the Council needed to allow increases in height limits and population densities for the area to thrive.


“We’re not advocating highrises in residential areas.


“But certainly we should see increased height along the highway, as well as redevelopment of the hundreds of old shacks into higher-density but low-rise dwellings to provide the desired residential development form,” he said.


Mr Sargeant said the area would not be able to support future infrastructure plans, including the extension of the light rail, if its development – and population – did not grow.


“I’m a resident and business owner in Mermaid and we don’t want to lose the qualities that make it such a great place to be,” he said.


“But if we don’t move forward, we’ll go backwards, in terms of business strength, property values and infrastructure opportunities.”