A collection of Lake Macquarie councillors, who fall across party lines, have supported a bid to investigate the creation of a central business district, saying the local government area has an “identity issue” impacting business opportunities and government funding.
Councillors Adam Shultz, Jason Pauling, John Gilbert, Luke Cubis and Kevin Baker have recommended council staff investigate the creation of a CBD named ‘Lake Macquarie’ in a notice of motion circulated on Monday.
The motion suggests inserting a CBD strategy into the council’s long-term 2050 Plan, once a report from staff is reviewed by the council.
Labor councillor Adam Shultz said he believed a dedicated central business district would create “a legacy” for future generations. He said it wasn’t up to him to suggest possible locations.
“The motion asks staff to prepare a report for council’s consideration. The report should give consideration to existing infrastructure, proximity to the lake and previous attempts by LMCC to create a locality,” he said.
“This is a hub that would require public transport and infrastructure of all kinds. We could potentially make more opportunities for young people, and the creation of a night-time economy as well, which is usually experienced within a CBD.”
The notice of motion mentioned the Department of Planning and Environment’s strategy for greater Newcastle, released in September.
While the plan named three centres in the Lake Macquarie as “strategic” it only identified one of 11 “catalyst areas” within the LGA.
Independent councillor Luke Cubis said he believed the local government area was struggling to receive government attention, in part, because it lacked an “identity piece”.
“People see Lake Macquarie as a suburb of Newcastle,” he said.
“Newcastle is smaller geographically, smaller by population, and the funding they have received is astronomically higher.
“It’s not on the map to provide things residents and ratepayers of our city require.”
Cr Shultz also highlighted the need to attract larger employers to the area.
“In 2015 we had six businesses with more than 200 employees, now they are down to three,” he said.
The Department of Planning’s Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan identified Northwest Lake Macquarie as a “catalyst area” in the region. Teralba was specified as an area of council, Transport for NSW and Department of Planning collaboration.
The council’s draft 2050 Plan already suggests “potentially doubling” the number of people working and living in Cardiff and Glendale over thirty years, “orienting town centres” in Belmont and Toronto, as well as “transforming” Morisset into a “major centre” linking the area with the Central Coast.
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said she supported the motion.
She believed the bid for a CBD would be more successful than past attempts because of “the way it’s been introduced”.
“There’s always been a call for a central business district, this motion just asks the staff in consultation with the community to investigate the matter,” she said.
“The 2050 Plan is an opportunity for talking about the big picture in the area and whether or not there’s an appetite or need for that.”
The motion will be discussed at Lake Macquarie’s council meeting on Monday.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.