Page 3938 - Week 10 - Thursday, 20 September 2018

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The most common impact indicated by businesses related to footfall—customers through doors—parking, revenues, visibility, access and noise. Some businesses noted an increase in maintenance and operational costs. Some businesses felt customers were avoiding the area due to vehicular access and amenity impacts from construction. There were suggestions that the impacts had been compounded by new developments opening, for example, in Casey and Franklin, which would likely share some customer base with the town centre.

Despite some businesses experiencing reduced foot traffic and revenues over the past 18 months, businesses are indeed optimistic about the future and are looking forward to an increase in social and economic activity, with a general expectation that revenues and foot traffic will improve when works are complete.

There is always opportunity to learn and improve, and the government welcomes the opportunity to deepen understanding of how the government might better work and communicate with local businesses so that they are better positioned to prepare for change and able to navigate transition. I welcome the learnings from this report and note some interesting lessons, including working with landlords to hold rent prices during construction, better signage and better focus on business owners whose first language is not English. I also look forward to further work on the comprehensive lessons learnt assessment following completion of light rail stage 1.

Under the light rail business link program, for example, the government has sought to work collaboratively in partnership with the business community to identify and support new opportunities through dedicated business forums, including a marketing masterclass suite. Businesses are also contributing to a working group to help plan a Gungahlin town centre street party in October to coincide with the reopening of Hibberson Street to pedestrian traffic.

I note ABS data suggests Gungahlin’s total number of businesses is growing, with the number of business entries higher than the number of business exits. Gungahlin has outperformed Canberra as a whole, with a 78 per cent increase in the number of businesses between 2009 and 2017 compared to 12.6 per cent in the ACT.

Overall, literature and research indicate the future experience for businesses in Gungahlin will be positive. Increased mobility along the light rail corridor will help to improve social and economic connections within the northern region of Canberra, while the cumulative public investment is anticipated to catalyse further uplift across Canberra, including Gungahlin.

Better land use and transport network integration resulting from the simultaneous construction projects will provide a range of direct and indirect benefits for Gungahlin businesses, such as increases in foot traffic from local population growth, changing travel patterns and consumer trends. Improved service frequency and integrated transport infrastructure will enhance customer and employee access, making the local business precincts more desirable locations to visit and work in.

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