Newcastle to defy gloom

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Despite recent reports of a stalling market, the outlook remains bright for the Newcastle property sector, according to the local council.

The Newcastle City Council’s Economic Development Unit (EDU) said surging tourism and a strong job market will underpin the long–term growth of property values in the region.

“Interest rates are affecting price growth and purchases in many areas now, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that these markets lack potential,” said Brent Knowles, Newcastle Council’s group manager of strategic planning and development. “People really need to look at the economy, as well as planned development, so they don’t dismiss buying or investing at the expense of reaping the benefits of long–term growth,” he said.

As an example, Knowles points to Newcastle Airport, now the fastest–growing regional airport in Australia with more than 1 million passengers in 2007, and strong continued growth predicted for the future.

Knowles said the airport now contributes around $283m annually to the Hunter region’s net economy, up more than 300% in three years, and this figure is expected to rise following the recent completion of a $10m tarmac expansion. He added that tourism growth continues to surge, and the property market will climb again.

“All this growth in tourist numbers and funding for projects translates to more jobs for locals and better business networks, which in turn makes Newcastle a more attractive place to buy or invest. One of the great strengths of Newcastle is that is doesn’t rely on one or two industries to support the economy – the workforce is diversified and continuing to expand,” he said.

Knowles also explained that the major bulk export port recently set new records in trade with $10.3bn worth of imports and exports during the 2007/08 financial year – a 24% increase from the previous financial year.

“The recently–announced $922m coal port expansion, which will ultimately boost production by 66 million tonnes, will allow this figure to continually increase,” he said.

“Employment in the region is also on the rise – Newcastle Airport alone has increased job numbers by 51% in the past three years, and with an array of major new projects planned or underway in the Hunter, we anticipate there’ll be plenty of new opportunities in the future.”

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