HIGHER density living in the centre of Bathurst will be a good thing if it stops land on the outskirts being swallowed up by housing estates, according to the president of the city's business chamber.
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Paul Jones, who took on the top role at the Bathurst Business Chamber late last year, has pointed to developments among similar regional cities in this region as a blueprint for the future.
That includes Dubbo's $35 million, 13-storey No.1 Church Street development in the CBD, overlooking the Macquarie River, which will feature 70 residential apartments.
"They [the apartments] are selling off the plan," Mr Jones said.
"You're also looking at Orange and the old hospital site - they're doing a four or five storey apartment development."
The Prince Street apartment development on the site of Orange's old hospital, which is before the Western Region Planning Panel, will feature a 63-apartment complex if it is approved.
The process has begun for the height restrictions in the Bathurst CBD to be amended to accommodate the proposed Bathurst Integrated Medical Centre and multi-storey car park development.
The development will eventually have to be approved - or rejected - by the NSW Government, rather than council, because it has been deemed a state significant project, but Mr Jones said he supported a higher height restriction in the CBD.
"I think Bathurst, longer term, needs more medium to high density residential developments and that means going up, not going out," he said.
"We're taking valuable agricultural land [for housing estates on the city's outskirts] and also providing infrastructure further out, like roads, sewer, water, that are expensive when you've got existing infrastructure here [in the centre of the city] that could be better utilised."
Mr Jones said bigger cities than Bathurst were already well down the path of high density living.
"You look at Port Macquarie, it's happening; you look at Coffs Harbour, it's happening; you look at Albury, it's already happened.
"It's inevitably got to happen here because land is a finite resource and we've got to utilise it better."
In terms of business in Bathurst, Mr Jones said he believed the mood was positive as the city left lockdowns behind, but there were some changes that had been wrought in the CBD that would not be unwound.
"There have been a few businesses close [in the Bathurst CBD] and not reopen after COVID," he said.
"You're also seeing people using online more because they were educated about that during COVID.
"You look at what's happening in the online space with delivery companies here and you look at what the big supermarkets are doing with deliveries: life has changed after COVID and it's not going back to how it was, so you have got to change and adapt your business with that."
He said the biggest problem for local businesses remained finding staff.
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