NT Cham­ber of Com­merce

NT News - - NT WEEKEND - GREG BICKNELL Chief Ex­ec­u­tive

CBDs around Aus­tralia have faced chal­lenges from in­creased com­pe­ti­tion, chang­ing re­tail en­vi­ron­ment and pop­u­la­tion spread.

The Dar­win Cen­tral Busi­ness Dis­trict has not been im­mune to these fac­tors but will come through them.

In these patchy eco­nomic times in the Top End, our cap­i­tal city needs to pro­vide a fo­cal point for both res­i­dents and vis­i­tors.

Fig­ures re­leased ear­lier this week by the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics show that the NT re­tail sec­tor has con­tin­ued to grow over the past few years.

But it also shows ad­di­tional re­tail com­plexes open­ing in the Top End have spread the ex­ist­ing re­tail spend over more out­lets. Some re­tail­ers in the CBD have been nim­ble in re­sponse to chang­ing times and have con­tin­ued to grow and pros­per.

For the Dar­win CBD to re­gain its po­si­tion as a fo­cal point for the city we need our re­tail­ers to be strong but there are sev­eral is­sues that need to be ad­dressed.

The very wel­come City Deal for the CBD will in­crease pop­u­la­tion and ac­tiv­ity in the city cen­tre. As we have seen in sim­i­lar cities around Aus­tralia, this has been very suc­cess­ful

Re­lo­ca­tion of NT Pub­lic Ser­vice of­fices back into the CBD can be one driver of in­creased ac­tiv­ity.

Anti-so­cial be­hav­iour con­tin­ues to be an is­sue in the CBD and de­ters vis­i­tors and res­i­dents from lin­ger­ing in the CBD.

Growth of high rise apart­ments has in­creased po­ten­tial for ex­panded pop­u­la­tion in the CBD, which in turn should drive ac­tiv­ity, but we are see­ing plenty of dark­ened apart­ments at night

Lack of cor­po­rate head of­fices in the Top End is a weak­ness.

And we need the pres­ence of ma­jors to draw more busi­nesses into the CBD.

The lack of a cor­ner­stone De­part­ment store has al­ways been a weak­ness but we need a sharp in­crease in pop­u­la­tion to jus­tify such in­vest­ment.

Calls for greater spend­ing by Gov­ern­ment on CBD in­vest­ment are con­strained by the bal­loon­ing fu­ture deficits which will need to be paid for, with Ter­ri­to­ri­ans fac­ing a debt of $7.1 bil­lion by 2021-22.

This un­der­scores the ur­gent need for gov­ern­ment to fa­cil­i­tate the on­shore gas in­dus­try, which will pro­vide a sig­nif­i­cant boost to busi­ness con­fi­dence and drive pop­u­la­tion growth.

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