NT Chamber of Commerce
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.