Council debates possible accommodation outlet at Airport Enterprise Park

Coffs Harbour City councillors recently debated whether approving a future accomodation outlet at the Airport Enterprise Park would be detrimental to City Centre businesses. Photo: Emma Darbin.


MUCH debate ensued at Coffs Harbour City Council’s recent meeting about the possibility of a future accommodation development at Airport Enterprise Park.

Cr Paul Amos moved a Notice of Motion at Council’s ordinary meeting on Thursday, 22 October for Council to maintain a strategic position of promoting and supporting the establishment of high quality accommodation developments in existing commercial nodes such as the City Centre, and for Council to take the position of not seeking to locate or canvas hotel accommodation in the Airport Enterprise Park.

Cr Amos said Council had committed to a long term strategy of improving existing core commercial zones, such as the City Centre and the Jetty Precinct, and should not create a competing commercial node at the Airport Enterprise Park.

“Each time we talk about putting a motel out near the airport I make the comment that I think it is counterproductive in what we’re trying to achieve,” Cr Amos said at the recent meeting.

“Our planners have given us a strong, composed and considered strategy to activate our City Centre and our commercial premises.

“We’ve supported our planners by increasing the heights in the City Centre, we’ve put in business incentives, and special rate variations to upgrade the City Centre.”

Cr Amos said Council was creating opposition for itself by considering future accommodation at the Airport, and said it was “counterproductive” to what Council was trying to achieve.

“When we start creating opposition for ourselves it just doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t fit with our strategic goal,” he stressed.

“If we have people cocooned out around the airport they won’t be able to spend their money, we need them in our commercial centres not at a node we create on the fringe.

“They will have a haircut, they will have a coffee or buy some toys for the grandchildren, they won’t do that if we put them out of town.”

Council staff confirmed at the meeting that they currently did not have a development application from an applicant for accommodation at the Airport Enterprise Park.

Cr Keith Rhoades spoke against the motion and said he didn’t want to rule anything out at the Enterprise Park.

“I don’t want to see us close our eyes and not listen to any DA that might come along,” Cr Rhoades said.

“We’re taking a position not to have something when we haven’t even had an approach from anybody as yet to put a proposition to Council.”

Cr George Cecato also spoke against the motion and said based on his 21 years of experience working in airports, around 30 to 40 percent of travellers come to visit for one or two days for a given reason.

“There are people who are coming to town because they want to stay one or two nights, and that’s what that place will be suitable for,” Cr Cecato said.

Cr Cecato said business owners in the city didn’t need to be afraid of competition.

“How many times have we heard that there are not enough accommodation in town, or the quality of the accommodation that we provide in town is not up to standards?” Cr Cecato asked fellow councillors.

“Just imagine if we got a new building in there in the right place, what it will do to those accommodation houses that haven’t spent a single cent for years; it will encourage them to improve, it will encourage them to invest money.

“Do not deprive yourself of the opportunity to know who may be interested in coming into town.”

Council’s General Manager Steve McGrath confirmed that the area’s accommodation outlets did occasionally reach capacity levels.

“There are some obvious events where it does happen, the National OzTag Senior and Junior Championships, oftentimes you will find accommodation is booked out from Grafton down to Nambucca/Macksville, so it does happen,” Mr McGrath said.

Cr Tegan Swan said the community was lucky to have its Airport located so close to town.

“We are so lucky with the location of our airport that it is so close to really key areas,” Cr Swan said.

“If people do want to get away really quickly the taxi ride is probably far shorter than in any other location that they would go to.

“Being able to provide another option for people in that location to be able to stay is something that will assist in our growth, not to the detriment of promoting tourism, and still helping with those key areas, but just providing another option.”

Cr Amos’s motion was lost five votes to two with Cr Amos and Cr John Arkan voting for the motion and Cr Michael Adendorff, Cr Rhoades, Cr Swan, Cr Denise Knight and Cr Cecato voting against.



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