THE three Ps are continuing to drive the southern Gold Coast with private/public partnerships totalling around $200 million.

Investment is pumping into the region across a variety of infrastructure projects including transport, education, health and science, tourism and commercial and residential properties.

Connecting Southern Gold Coast general manager Jim Wilson, says the ongoing development of the southern transport hub centred on Gold Coast Airport, continues to attract attention.

“People are starting to recognise that this end of the Coast has been somewhat overlooked. They’re realising the beauty of the surroundings and that there is a quality of life on offer here that needs to be developed further,” says Wilson.

“An integral factor of these projects is that they create diversity and depth in the southern Gold Coast economy, which will lead to better marketing of the region and increased employment. These multimillion dollar developments will put the southern Gold Coast at the forefront of lifestyle, investment and opportunity in Queensland.”

Notable projects include the terminal expansion at Gold Coast Airport; Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast Campus foundation building; expansions at John Flynn Private Hospital and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary; and six new tourist accommodation resorts.

The southern Gold Coast’s residential property sector also appears healthy with a regional record sale price of more than $8 million recently achieved for a home on Currumbin Hill overlooking Currumbin Alley.

“The Leda Group’s proposed Cobaki Lakes residential development south-west of Boyd Street Tugun is planned to have the first of its projected 5000 residential dwellings completed before the end of 2011, increasing economic prospects for the southern Gold Coast,” says Wilson.

“Whilst there are still many issues relating to the Cobaki Lakes project to be worked through with local governments, the project will offer employment and lifestyle opportunities to the Southern Gold Coast, as well as the Tweed.”

However urban economist Ainsley McLaren, says development in the Tweed region in particular could be discouraged by an ‘incredibly prescriptive’ planning criteria.

McLaren, from urban planner THG’s Gold Coast office, applauded the vision from the recent Tweed City Centre Local Environment Plan but says development restrictions could affect the region’s ability to attract investment and thus threaten long-term sustainability.

“The control plan provides a clear intent for each site – with maximum building height and floor space ratios nominated on a siteby- site basis. It also goes a step further, providing another level of detail in relation to building form, setback and the like,” says McLaren.

“While overall, the vision for Tweed City Centre is exciting, such narrow development parameters are likely to restrict creativity and innovation on individual sites and restrict the ability for performance-based planning.

“It is essential that the Tweed facilitate the creation and attraction of a variety of businesses and employment opportunities that will diversify the shire’s industry base and create a more resilient economy.”

Connecting Southern Gold Coast continues to ply its focus toward council’s lack of urgency on transport infrastructure upgrades in the area.

Wilson says locals are not concerned with the effects investment will have on the natural aesthetics of the region, but more so how the Gold Coast Highway will cope with increased traffic flow and the notable absence of a rail service northbound.

A meeting with council to discuss the possibility of linking Gold Coast Airport to northern areas of the Coast with a light rail system similar to the proposed Southport-Broadbeach rapid transit project is imminent.

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