Coffs development boom unbelievable says Council director
"IF you told me back in March that development activity would be like this on the back of a pandemic I wouldn't have believed you."
These are the words of Coffs Harbour City Council's Chris Chapman.
He is the Director of Sustainable Communities and says planning staff are being run off their feet.
"It's been the highest volume of development applications coming through that I have seen in a decade and we are not unique," Mr Chapman said.
"This is happening all along the north coast."
He says there are a number of factors at play as people escape the city and embrace more flexible working arrangements.
From Sawtell through to Coffs Harbour and up to the Northern Beaches it's a similar story and the proposals range from new restaurants and bars through to apartment blocks and residential subdivisions.
Here is a rundown of some of the development applications approved in recent months:
- New West Coffs subdivision gets the green light
Earlier this month a development application for a 29-lot residential subdivision was approved for West Coffs.
The new subdivision marks the next stage of residential development in the West Coffs area near William Sharp Drive. Read the full story here.
- New alfresco dining areas approved on Woolgoolga's Market Street
AN innovative kerbside activation plan has taken another important step, with the approval of new alfresco dining areas along Market Street.
The Woolgoolga street has seen a lot of activity in recent years, with new bars and restaurants drawing locals, tourists and day trippers in increasing numbers.
Local businesswoman Danielle Wallace owns the arcade at 2-4 Market Street and operates the Sunset Room bar and restaurant at the front. Read the full story here
- Seven storey building approved for prime Jetty site
A seven storey development touted to "lead the way" for the transformation of the jetty precinct has been approved.
The building, set to be constructed on a prime site at the corner of Collingwood and Orlando streets, will consist of 46 apartments and two ground-floor commercial tenancies.
It will be located adjacent to Supply cafe and Coffs Harbour YHA. Read the full story.
But a number of pending development applications, particularly in Woolgoolga where the town's master plan is yet to be fully implemented, have been causing concern.
Some say they could ruin the village atmosphere of the town for good.
To the north of town the first ever set of traffic lights have been approved near the site of the new $23m Woolgoolga Sports Complex.
There are fears some of the proposals are being rushed through while Council sits on its hands in regard to implementing the town centre masterplan which stipulates lower height limits.
But Mr Chapman says there hasn't been a "concerted delay" and the various studies needed to implement the plan (traffic and parking for example) had to be conducted in a "piecemeal" approach as funds were obtained.
In addition to concerns over inappropriate developments, the boom has put pressure on Coffs Harbour's most vulnerable.
As people escape the city, owners are returning to the region to work from home in properties they previously rented out while new listings are quickly snapped up.
Rental vacancies have dropped to zero in some areas and house prices are surging meaning more and more people are finding themselves homeless.
Council has been criticised for fining people sleeping in their cars but say the State and Federal Governments should do more about the situation and that rangers do not know the individual circumstances of people found contravening parking signs.
Plans on the horizon
- Bigger banana: Major $50m expansion planned for Coffs icon
A multistorey resort, a brewery, nature-based cabins, a coaster ride - these are just some things planned for the Big Banana under a whopping $50-million expansion.
It comes as part of the tourist attraction's 20-year Master Plan, released on its 56th birthday.
The Big Banana currently holds 15 hectares of undeveloped land, which will be used to add new rides, attractions and accommodation. A number of projects are expected to be completed as soon as 2023. Read the full story here.