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From beaches to back yards: Mayor's plan to turn Coast into garage start-up capital

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The Gold Coast will change planning regulations and fast-track the laying of new fibre optic cable for high-speed Wi-Fi to help grow home-based businesses, under plans to hasten the city’s economic recovery and turn it into a hub for garage start-ups.

 

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Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate revealed plans he said he hoped would cement the city’s position as the “undisputed small business capital of Australia”.

He said the city needed to be “ahead of the curve” to support new ways of working from home in the post-COVID-19 environment, and perhaps even encourage the birth of the Gold Coast’s own garage start-ups like Microsoft or Amazon.

Some of the most valuable companies in the world including Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon all say they were started in suburban garages.

“There’s so many multinational businesses that started life in the garage,” Tate told InQueensland.

“On the Gold Coast, if mum and dad have a double garage then we shouldn’t be saying no to that.”

Tate said the way people worked was changing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic with more people potentially looking to work from home after restrictions were lifted.

“We’ve got to be ahead of the curve there and make sure that our planning instruments allow for that,” Tate said.

“If you want to convert your garage and have two or three people working at your home, currently you’re in breach.”

The proposed changes to city planning instruments would allow for approvals of home businesses with more than one non-resident employee operating from a private suburban home. They could also allow for more than one business to be run from a single home.

“If you’re an empty nester and you’ve got a five-bedder and you want to start a business, you can have two or three businesses working from there because you can convert the bedrooms into offices and your formal dining room can be the board room,” Tate said.

“I want to see the flexibility so we can have clusters of small service offices.”

Tate said he anticipated the planning regulations would confine home-based businesses to areas such as around the light-rail corridor that runs from the city’s north to the airport at Coolangatta in the south, but council would also consider changes to parking regulations to accommodate employees who worked at suburban home-based businesses during the day.

He said the June 22 Gold Coast City budget would also contain funding to double the existing city-owned, high-speed fibre optic network. The first stage of the high-capacity network that offers some of the fastest internet speeds in Australia was installed ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, with a second $10 million loop added in 2019.

“Forget waiting for NBN, the city has already started with high-speed fibre optics that is 10 times faster than NBN, we should have more of it and it will be fast-tracked,” Tate said.

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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