Future commercial property opportunities across NSW’s burgeoning Central Coast will be significantly boosted thanks to a refreshed growth strategy spanning the next 20 years.

The state government’s draft Central Coast Regional Plan 2041 announced this month outlines ambitious proposals to boost services, housing, jobs and infrastructure across the entire region. Extra focus is being placed on currently expanding hubs including Gosford city centre, Somersby, Tuggerah and Warnervale.

The draft plan is a refreshed version of the Central Coast Regional Plan 2036, updated in view of covid’s dramatic effect on lifestyles and work. A key goal in the renewed vision is the creation of a “15 minute” region filled with neighbourhoods where residents can reach most major services within a quarter hour walk, bike ride or drive.

Maximum appeal

Central Coast commercial real estate has long been an attractive proposition for investors and business owners after its low business costs compared to capital cities in terms of labour, land and occupancy. According to NSW government figures commercial real estate in Gosford is on average $300 per square metre for office rent per annum, compared to $695 in Melbourne’s CBD.

Land values however are on an upward trajectory led by industrial sites. Director of leading Central Coast commercial agency Chapman & Frazer Daniel Mason said it signals the area is “a very healthy region in which to be investing”. Underpinning growth in property and development values is the higher than usual number of occupiers and investors being spurred on by record low interest rates to purpose-build or buy property rather than lease existing factories. This in turn is delivering developers better margins for purchasing land and on-selling completed developments Mr Mason said.

Sydney’s soaring industrial land values were also fuelling the flight to Central Coast assets. “Core industrial markets [in Sydney] such as Wetherill Park have seen land sales increase up to $1500 per square metre,” Mr Mason said. “That’s around six times higher than the average rate on the Central Coast.”

Combined with continuing improvements to the M1 motorway and north-connex to build faster connections between Sydney and Newcastle, the region was ripe with prospects for developers and owner-occupiers, he added.

Developments boom

As the third largest population centre in NSW, close to Sydney and filled with lifestyle attractions of beaches, waterways and bushland, the coast is regarded a prime destination for work as well as play.

Now the region stretching from the Hawkesbury River on metro Sydney’s northern border to Lake Macquarie is attracting record investment from both public and private sectors. High profile advertising and businessman is hailed as the one who kicked off the Gosford city centre ‘development boom’ when he announced plans in 2017 for the now completed the Bonython Tower, the area’s first high quality commercial and prestige residential development. Since then billions of dollars have been committed for a range of modern high rise apartment towers, hotels and shopping centre developments. Gosford waterfront’s transformation has also begun with a striking new $10 million playground. Billed as NSW’s most unusual park it includes a water play area that works with the tide.

Business groups estimate while 30 per cent of the Central Coast’s local working population of around 105,000 commute to the Sydney CBD and metropolitan area each day, most would prefer to work locally. Major organisations already on the Central Coast include global bakery brand Sara Lee which opened in 1971, Sanitarium, Mars Food Australia and Blinkmobile, plus contact centres for the likes of ING Direct and Qantas. in 2021. Since 2018, Healthe Care Australia, the country’s third largest private hospital operator has spent more than $60 million expanding two of its hospitals in the area and building a new facility in Tuggerah, while this year beverage maker Hawkesbury Brewing Co. moved its plant to the coast creating over 100 of jobs.

In 2018, the government opened Gosford Hospital and relocated the Australian Taxation Office to Gosford city centre. The ATO relocation, part of a wider strategy to base more public sector roles in regional NSW, pumped over 600 new jobs into the region and hailed a success by Business NSW Central Coast for its notable effect on the vibrancy and economy of the Gosford city centre.

Forward-thinking communities

The revised regional plan will allow for similar ripple effects but on a far wider scale, the organisation says. At this month’s launch Business NSW Central Coast regional manager Paula Martin praised the new vision, saying it allowed for the development of infrastructure and communities that would “accommodate the needs of our growing business community”.

“A 15minute live work and play region means that we can create jobs, it will spark innovation, entrepreneurialism which is exactly what the Central Coast needs,” Ms Martin said

“We are delighted to see that the government is looking at developing infrastructure that supports the growth of modern and forward-thinking communities. It’s important that our businesses offer a range of different jobs on the coast.”

Public comment is available on the Central Coast Regional Plan 2041 until March 4.

Draft Central Coast Regional Plan 2041 | Planning Portal - Department of Planning and Environment (nsw.gov.au)