Amenities help keep Gladstone growing
With a huge rise in development approvals and a massive expansion planned for Stockland Shopping Centre, Gladstone is still booming, writes Melanie Burgess
WITH its population growth well above the Queensland average and residential building approvals rising rapidly, Gladstone is attracting investment and amenities and fast becoming more than just an industrial hub.
The region, which this year gained an entertainment centre, water play park and GP super clinic, had an estimated three per cent population growth in 2012 compared to the two per cent statewide average, according to ABS figures.
It also had 1570 residential building approvals in the 201213 financial year, 460 more than the year before, showing there is no expectation migration will slow.
Gladstone Regional Council deputy mayor Matt Burnett said a growing population meant increased amenities, which in turn attracted more growth.
“The more we grow the more services and businesses that we attract. We’ll get more restaurants, shops and choice,” he said.
“At the moment a lot of people shop in Rockhampton and in Brisbane. Soon we are going to have some real choices in terms of retail and that’s because the population is growing.”
He is referring to Stockland’s Gladstone Shopping Centre, which is currently undergoing a $6 million expansion and has been approved for a further $150 million expansion, which will include Gladstone’s first food court.
Stockland general manager retail leasing Robyn Stubbs said there was more than sufficient local demand and population growth to ensure strong patronage and support for the shopping centre.
McDonald’s has also been approved to build two more restaurants in the Gladstone region, in Kirkwood and on Boyne Island, bringing its total to five. Cr Burnett said, love or loathe the company, it was a good sign for Gladstone’s economy and investment promise.
“They do their market research and don’t move into an area where they are going to fail,” he said.
“McDonald’s is smart. Follow McDonald’s.”
As for the enhanced lifestyle, children’s water park Splash Zone at Gladstone Aquatic Centre and the Gladstone Entertainment & Convention Centre were both opened last month.
Cr Burnett said the centre would encourage more entertainment in the area and could bring thousands of people to the region for conferences.
A GP super clinic was also opened in July and a new primary school is planned for Riverstone Rise, near Boyne Island.
But if recent predictions from the Queensland Schools Planning Commission are accurate, at least one more primary school plus a secondary school will be needed in the region by 2021.
“They’re realising we are already at capacity so Education Queensland are looking at how to house the children of the future,” Cr Burnett said.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) zone chair for Gladstone Mark Spearing said the region’s above-average population growth would likely continue but to accurately predict figures was impossible.
“There are billions of dollars’ worth of future growth still earmarked for the Gladstone region however these projects are reliant on certain global economic activities to occur and that environment is very difficult to predict,” he said.
He said growth in the region was driven by major industry therefore often fluctuated.
“There is local rumour that Arrow Energy, the next LNG (liquefied natural gas) proponent, is getting very close to making a positive announcement on its intention in Gladstone,” he said.
Plans for the LNG plant on Curtis Island were approved by the State Government in September.