Sunshine Coast to be young, nimble and tech-savvy
  • Wednesday 15 March 2017
New Maroochydore CBD

The Sunshine Coast is set to become the home of nimble businesses, tech-savvy millennials and young families in a major transformation set to reinvent its leisurely seaside image, according to a new report by Australia’s leading demographer.

The report by Bernard Salt, The Activated City: Imagining the Sunshine Coast in 2040, found 550,000 people will be living in the region by 2040, attracted by its entrepreneurial spirit, "hipster" culture and connectivity.

Mr Salt said direct flights from Maroochydore into Asia, expected from the expanded Sunshine Coast Airport from 2020, would see the region become as connected to Asian markets as it was to the rest of the country.

He said significant economic and social shifts triggered by the creation of the new CBD at Maroochydore, the expanded airport and the Sunshine Coast University Hospital will accelerate in the coming decades.

“The results will be a Sunshine Coast that is not just bigger, but also younger, more highly educated and entrepreneurial,” Mr Salt said.

“The Sunshine Coast is awakening from a long and cosy period of hibernation.

“The city is being ‘activated’ by investments in infrastructure such as its new hospital precinct and the building of an international airport runway.

“The development of an entirely new CBD in the heart of the Sunshine Coast at Maroochydore will provide a vital ecosystem in which business, as well as leisure and the arts, will thrive.”

Mr Salt said footloose businesses that can operate from any location would be attracted by the technology, lifestyle, cost and connectivity while university-educated millennials would team up with second generation CEOs – baby boomers who retired to the Sunshine Coast and kicked off new start-up businesses in the fertile grounds of the region.

“Parents in the future will happily invest their lives in the community knowing their children won’t be forced to move elsewhere to pursue their dreams because, finally, the Sunshine Coast will have arrived,” Mr Salt said.

Mr Salt predicts that by 2040 the Sunshine Coast and its new CBD will have benefited from a range of new social and economic developments, including:

• An influx of ‘footloose’ businesses able to relocate thanks to technological change and attracted by the Sunshine Coast’s enviable lifestyle and environment.

• A diversification of the economy into sectors including technology, aviation, renewable energy and professional services.

• New flight connections with major Asian-Pacific cities, which will boost exports, increase tourism and drive the growth of high-quality education and health services.

• Growth of the already strong entrepreneurial sector, driven by ‘Second Generation CEOs’ – baby-boomer retirees still keen to put their money and skills to work.

• An increase in "knowledge workers’" and tech-savvy young people, attracted by higher education expansion and the emergence of new start-ups.

• The subsequent rise of a thriving ‘hipster’ culture and the emergence of the Sunshine Coast as a significant artistic and cultural hub.

• A huge increase in population from around 350,000 today to 550,000 in 2040, with young families and children among the fastest-growing demographic groups.

To achieve this growth the Sunshine Coast will have to build the equivalent of a new suburb every 14 months and a new school every two years, as well as new infrastructure.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the region was up to the challenge.

“We have always taken the view that we will shape the future, not simply react to it,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Our Regional Economic Development Strategy sets out a bold but achievable plan to build a $33bn economy by 2033, with 100,000 new jobs in high-value industries, 20 per cent of our goods and services exported and household incomes above the Queensland average.

“The creation of an entirely new CBD at Maroochydore is one of the ways in which we are setting this new course for the Coast.

“Bernard Salt describes the new CBD as the ‘missing link’ that will transform the Coast and deliver jobs and growth for decades to come. He is absolutely right.”

SunCentral is driving the construction of the new CBD on a 53-hectare greenfield site in the heart of Maroochydore.

SunCentral CEO John Knaggs said the Activated City report justified the confidence business has already shown in the CBD project, which will ultimately create an estimated 30,000 new jobs.

“The vision of the future described by Bernard Salt is enthralling – but it is built on very realistic expectations of the success the Sunshine Coast has already enjoyed,” Mr Knaggs said.

“The first wave of private sector interest in the new CBD includes projects with a construction cost of more than $400m that would result in new job opportunities for local workers.

“Our beautiful region is evolving in ways that will enrich the lives of the whole community and the new CBD will be at the very heart of the Sunshine Coast’s exciting future.”

Maroochydore CBD Fast Facts

• SunCentral Maroochydore Pty Ltd was established by the Sunshine Coast Council in March 2015.
• The 53-hectare site was declared a Priority Development Area by the State Government in July 2013.
• The Council established SunCentral Maroochydore Pty Ltd to oversee development of the site.
• The new city centre is needed to meet the demands of Australia’s fastest growing region.
• It is located 10 minutes from Sunshine Coast Airport.

Economic and employment benefits

• Creating 15,000 jobs by 2025 and more than 30,000 jobs by 2040.
• Expected to value add more than $350 million to the state’s economy in the next five years.
• Will provide an estimated $4.4 billion boost to the Sunshine Coast economy over the life of the project.
• Project expected to provide an estimated $5.9 billion boost to the Queensland economy.

Urban design
• Prime commercial office space, exclusive retail, exhibition, convention and entertainment facilities, a premium hotel and recreational spaces.
• Approximately 40 per cent of the site will be parks, plazas and waterways.
• A rail corridor into Maroochydore is already designated by the State Government.
• Potential for light rail to connect Caloundra, Kawana and Mooloolaba with Maroochydore’s new CBD.
• 150,000m2 commercial gross floor area, 65,000m2 retail gross floor area and 2000 residential apartments.

Technology and environmental sustainability
• High speed fibre optic digital connections.
• A range of ‘smart city’ innovations such as smart lighting and signage and technology that assists parking, traffic management and provides real time information for public transport.
• Australia’s first CBD-wide automated underground waste collection system.
• Environmentally sustainable building design.