The old saying, ‘the sum of the parts are greater than the whole’ is rarely applied in politics due to an often disconnect between the interests of the Federal, State and Local levels of government.
Problems include whose responsibility it is to fund what, who gets credit for the success, whether a project approval might help an opposition government get elected, and the dictates of internal party lines all throw up road-blocks when different tiers of government are required to work together.
However, every now and again, an initiative comes along where, regardless of ideology, governments work collectively toward a common cause – what’s right!
And so it’s been with the launch of the City Deals intuitive by the Australian Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.
City Deals provide game-changing opportunities for Aussie cities and are a shining example of what can be achieved when politicians put aside differences and work together.
What are City Deals?
The initiative sees all three tiers of government – federal, state and local – agree to work collectively toward a vision of prosperity, productivity and liveability in strategically-chosen cities.
City Deals are intended to unlock economic development potential which is always a good thing for property markets – sustained growth in employment and confidence is often a precursor to real estate price growth.
The programme looks to align planning, investment and governance around particular designated regions with a view to driving growth through increased job opportunities, stimulating economic reform and facilitating urban renewal.
Across Australia, there have been seven City Deals agreed to date, with some excellent outcomes for residents, businesses and investors in Townsville, Western Sydney, Launceston, Darwin, Hobart, Adelaide and Geelong.
Townsville was the recipient of Australia’s first City Deal, signed on 9 December 2016.
The deal’s First Annual Progress Report was delivered in March 2018 and outlined achievement to date. These included the launch of the Townsville Smart City Plan, Stage 1 of the Haughton water pipeline, confirmed funding for the $193 million Port of Townsville Channel Capacity Upgrade, establishment of the Townsville Industrial Development Board, acceleration of the State Development Area to explore opportunities for new industrial development and confirmed funding for the preservation of the Townsville Eastern Access Railway Corridor.
In the future, this City Deal will drive more initiatives including continued focus on the North Queensland Stadium, on track to be completed in time for the start of the 2020 NRL season.
There’s also Smart Townsville – a community-led partnership to deliver a Smart City promoting outcomes such as Smart Precinct NQ to help stimulate innovation, technology and business incubation.
There’s the Townsville Industrial Development Board focus on developing Townsville’s Southern Industrial Corridor too, as well as Stage 2 of the Haughton water pipeline as part of water security initiatives.
There has also been a variety of joint ventures with private companies being sought on the back of economic stimulation drive by the City Deal, such as the expansion of the Sun Metals zinc refinery.
Launceston’s City Deal is a 5-year plan signed in April 2017 and designed to make Tasmania’s northern capital one of the nation’s most liveable and innovative cities.
Achievements to date include a $95 million investment in the health of the Tamar Estuary via the Tamar Estuary Management Taskforce which completed the River Health Action Plan and it’s 12 recommended projects.
Stage 1 of Launceston’s City Heart (urban renewal) project is also well advanced, with the Civic Square reconstruction completed.
The relocation of the University of Tasmania’s main campus from Newnham to Inveresk is also progressing. The project is receiving a total of $260 million – the largest single infrastructure investment in Launceston’s history.
Launceston also has a Smart City initiative with a $3.5 million investment in the Greater Launceston Transformation Project under the deal.
Future initiatives under this City Deal involve progressing the revitalisation of Launceston’s city centre, commencing construction of the new University of Tasmania precinct at Inveresk, delivering the Northern Suburbs Revitalisation Plan to integrate planning, infrastructure, housing, and environmental needs, and establishing the Launceston Cultural Strategy to better coordinate cultural events.
There’s also an employment and skills push for northern Tasmania looking to be delivered via the Regional Economic Development Plan. This will put forward a business case for a Defence Force cadet facility in the northern suburbs.
Australia’s 27th largest city is one of the strongest property markets in the country right now.
Western Sydney, NSW
There are some who would argue the fringes of Sydney don’t need stimulation via a City Deal, but decentralisation of this region is essential to providing opportunity outside our most crowded metropolis.
The population of Western Sydney is as big as Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city. A sizeable portion of this population commute each day to metropolitan Sydney for work.
While the Western Sydney City Deal was announced in 2016, with a memorandum of understanding signed later that year, the formal City Deal wasn’t signed until March 2018.
The Western Sydney City Deal is a partnership between the Australian Government, NSW Government, and local governments of the Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly.
Growth in the region under the initiative is designed to hit key benchmarks, such as completion of the North South Rail Link which will allow a 30-minute commute to the Sydney CBD.
There are also moves around aerospace, including the creation 200,000 jobs by supercharging the aerotropolis and agribusiness precinct, and initiating an Aerospace Institute.
The deal also allows for establishing a $150 million Liveability Program and delivery of the Western Parkland City.
The 20-year City Deal is due for completion come 2038.
Perhaps more than any major city in Australia, Darwin desperately needs support. The ‘Top End’ was once Australia’s strongest property for an entire decade.
The Darwin City Deal is a 10-year plan to boost the city’s offering as a vibrant capital and diversify its economy while fuelling population growth.
The City Deal for Darwin was signed in November 2018, so is only really starting to come to fruition. Because it’s implementation plan is newly released, the Annual Progress Report won’t be available until November 2019 according to schedule.
This City Deal will look to deliver a number of initiatives such as fresh education and civic precinct for the city which will including a new Charles Darwin University city campus. There will also be redevelopment of State Square to improve liveability, as well as climate-appropriate design to help cool the city and create a great example of tropical urban living.
The deal also looks to unlock the potential of dormant sites in Darwin to improve use of the harbour foreshore too.
Hobart’s city deal is one of the most recent, with the arrangement being inked in February this year.
A city that is completely misunderstood by a large number of mainland property investors, Hobart has been one the nation’s most compelling growth stories this decade. Its remarkable economic recovery from 2013 recession to now being on the cusp of stealing the #1 mantle for CommSec’s State-of-the-States economic report card has already been reflected in property market performance.
The City Deal between the Federal Government, State Government and the local councils of Clarence, Glenorchy, Hobart and Kingborough will look to encourage investment and continue the good-news growth story for Hobart.
Major commitments include investing $82.3 million for border services to support international flights at Hobart Airport, realising Macquarie Point as a world class science, tourism, culture and arts hub with an investment of more than $450 million to upgrade Australia’s research station network and supporting infrastructure.
There will also be investment of $576 million to replace the Bridgewater Bridge – the largest ever investment in a single transport project in Hobart’s history.
Infrastructure measures to reduce congestion and improve transport across Greater Hobart is also part of the deal.
The Northern Suburbs Transit Corridor is also a priority area for urban renewal under the deal with increased housing diversity and improved infrastructure all part of the mix.
The City Deal Annual Progress Report will be delivered in February 2020, with the deal itself due to wind up come 2029.
The Geelong City Deal is a 10-year plan set to deliver $370 million in investment to the region and boost the Great Ocean Road economy.
Key commitments to be tackled within the City Deal include almost $175 million in investment for the new Convention and Exhibition Centre in the city centre – an outlay which includes monies set aside for improved transport options around the centre.
A total of $38 million earmarked for a revitalisation of the Geelong city centre is slated as well, and several million to be spent to ‘activate’ the waterfront precinct as part of the Geelong Waterfront Safe Harbour project. There’s over $100 million designated as part of the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan too.
Great Ocean Road Infrastructure Projects receiving a $27.5 million boost from the federal government are on the cards while expansion of Deakin University’s Future Economy Precinct at the Waurn Ponds campus to the tune of $7.6 million is included.
$10 million will be out toward construction of the Queenscliff Ferry Terminal to improve ferry services crossing the heads of Port Phillip Bay.
Smart Cities investment in smart technology initiatives helping service the City of Greater Geelong will total $1.15 million.
All three levels of government will jointly prepare an Implementation Plan by late-2019, which will set out key milestones for projects, timeframes and who will be responsible. An annual progress report will be delivered in March 2020, with the City Deal is due to wrap up by 2029.
The Adelaide City Deal is a 10-year agreement that will work toward the growth of business and population.
Investment under the City Deal looks to include Lot Fourteen – the former site of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, as a hub for research, innovation, and entrepreneurialism in technology and the arts. The Australian Government has invested $26 million to establish the Australian Space Agency, and recently announced Lot Fourteen as the Agency’s home.
There’s also support for cultural and environmental projects in Adelaide’s suburbs through new facilities and technology.
A City Deal Implementation Board will be formed with representatives from each level of government to oversee the delivery of the City Deal. The plan will include periodic reporting and a formal evaluation of the City Deal during year-three of the program.
In addition to the cities already underway and detailed above, both Perth and South East Queensland are in the pipeline for potential City Deals as well.
A word of caution. Whether a City Deal or anything else for the matter, in isolation it’s insufficient to make a decision as important as investing in property. One must first understand the numerous factors which influence individual property markets and objectively analyse the collective sum of all factors.
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