Nelson Bay looks to higher callingpoll

NEW LOOK: An artist’s impression of a proposed eight-storey apartment building on Church Street, Nelson Bay. It is one of two new apartment developments inspiring confidence in the town after a decade of decline.

THE Nelson Bayproperty market has been “static” for a decadeand the town’s apartment height limitsneeds to be lifted to spur development, a council paper has warned.

As property prices across the Hunter surge, the holiday town’s decade-long backward slide is prompting calls to see building heights in the CBD lifted to encourage development.

In December a council discussion paper about Nelson Bay’s progress suggested increasing building heights by almost 10 metres in some areas to spur development.

“It is well known that the residential unit market in Nelson Bay has been static and has actually declined over the last 10 years,” the discussion paper stated.

“This is due to a number of defaults and abandoned development sites stalling development activity and causing poor development sentiment. It is clear thatcurrent conditions are not allowing for re-development.”

Property data reveals themedian price for units in the Bay has been in decline since 2005, when it reached a high of $445,000.

The market for units in the town has subtracted insixout of the 11 years since, including three years of double-digit subtraction.

And while there are positive signs in the town –the market for units grew by 24 per cent in 2016, and long-vacanteyesores like the abandoned “Milan Towers”development on Church Street are pushing ahead –Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie believes heights in the town should be lifted to allow the area to continue to grow.

“If they don’t go up, no one is ever going to spend their money there, that’s the bottom line,” he said.

“Thecouncil has been a bit lax in not dealing with it, to be honest,they seem to worry about the handfulof peoplewho worry about building high-rises in the proper locations.”

The discussion paper comes four years after the Nelson Bay Strategy was first adopted in 2012.

“Unfortunately…we’ve seen limited private investment in the town centre, despite this period being one of significant growth for the …housing industry,” the report states.

The discussion paper says building height rises that maximise “water views” without obstructing views or overshadowing existing developments.

Ryan Palmer, from the Tomaree Business Chamber, said increasing heights “in the right areas” was a smart move.

“It’s about getting the scale right,” he said.

“Business and community confidence in Nelson Bay is turning around [and] even though buildingheights arealways going to be contentious I know that the business chamber is excited about what’s coming.”

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