Will the Toondah Harbour PDA “kill off” the Cleveland CBD!

The creation of a new commercial hub at Toondah Harbour will mean there will be two competing “town centres” less than 2 kilometres apart.  The available reports make a minimal assessment of the economic impacts of a second hub.  This does not do justice to this critical issue.

The Toondah Harbour Market Assessment and Development Strategy (Pg 33) assumes this market share reflects the retail offering’s position within the market and the likely ability to capture demand from the immediate  region and the need for the retail component to be appropriately sized such that it does not compete with the Cleveland CBD.   The “no impact scenario” does not fit with recent experience or actions of businesses faced with new competitors on their “door step”.

The report goes on to state (Pg 63) it is considered that the discount of infrastructure charges for the Cleveland CBD should be extended to incentivise increased medium density development activity in the broader Cleveland area for the benefit of stimulating wider interest in investment and development opportunities and encouraging a walkable medium density community between Toondah Harbour, the Cleveland CBD and immediate surrounds.  Incentives to re-vitalise our existing centre, comprising existing businesses is one thing, applying the same subsidies to a new development, that will compete with the existing centre seems like “daft” economics.

In fairness the Market Assessment and Developments Strategy report does a reasonable job in terms of an overview of the market and marketability of the components of the Toondah PDA but it does not provide a economic analysis of the impacts of one centre on the other or the overall community benefits flowing from the surrender of community owned assets to the private sector.  What is the value of the community owned assets proposed to be given over to entice the development of the PDA site?  Is this the best investment of the proceeds of an effective sale of community assets?

Where is the economic assessment that justifies the decision to develop the PDA area? These tools might include a benefit cost analysis, some form of “input output analysis” or even a business plan …after all we are  intending to dispose of (or sell) significant community owned assets.  Is it really a good deal?

The available reports show that Toondah Harbour will need “incentivisation” such as available to prospective investors wanting to participate in Cleveland’s revitalisation.  Most people would support some serious work to re-vitalise the existing CBD. But the Toondah Harbour report indicates it will need a “leg up” to the same extent! If implemented such an approach would defeat the purpose of the CBD scheme.  Of course,  these incentives largely come about through the largess of ratepayers.

Lets not buy a “pig in a poke” .