BOLD VISION FOR COAST'S 'UGLY DUCKLING'
Written on the 15 October 2015 by Jenna Rathbone
IT has been labelled one of the worst suburbs in Australia, but State Member Sid Cramp says Nerang is on the verge of greatness.
Cramp, who won the seat of Gaven in January this year, says although there is a bad stigma associated with Nerang, locals are fighting for change.
"When you speak to local small business owners and when you speak to developers, they see the potential but they are all held back because there is a perception about whether Nerang can move forward," says Cramp. "I want to bring everyone together and start communication."
Cramp recently established Nerang2020, a community group dedicated to revitalising and progressing the Nerang area.
Members include Stephen Harrison, director of Harrison Development Group, Mark Witheriff, joint managing director of Knight Frank, Michael Nash, director of Urban Planning Services, and David Lister, director of Headline Creative.
Cramp says he didn't want to create a 'talkfest', but a forum for Nerang industry leaders who have interests and heart in the community.
"Anyone in politics who says they know everything, shouldn't be listened to and I was smart enough to recognise that I needed to bring other people to the table," says Cramp.
"My role is to take as much information as I can from the civil engineers, the town planners and the construction experts, who are actually dealing with these multibillion-dollar developments, and understand what I need to do from a legislative point of view and a community representative point of view to make sure these dreams and ambitions happen.
"We don't just sit down and say 'wouldn't it be great', we are actually looking at practical applications."
Projects that are expected to drive change in Nerang include a proposal by Emerald Lakes developer Nifsan to build more than 1600 homes along the banks of the Nerang River. Nifsan has lodged an application with council for a series of towers across two precincts on the 23ha site adjacent to the Nerang railway station.
Wanda Ridong, the developer behind Surfers Paradise's $1 billion Jewel project, is also in the early stages of launching a multibillion-dollar resort and theme park-style development planned for a 45ha site on the eastern edge of the rail station along the Nerang River.
Nerang2020 member Stephen Harrison says it is important that Nerang is not overlooked as a place to invest.
"There is no doubt that there are many investors looking at Nerang in terms of where it sits on the Gold Coast and the opportunities with the infrastructure that is in place already," says Harrison.
"They are seeing opportunity there and that it is a smart opportunity for investment. It is important to ensure that investment is harnessed and Nerang isn't a location that doesn't miss out in a period when there is a lot of investment coming to the Gold Coast, both domestically and internationally.
"It is important that Nerang has a key vision and a plan that investors will relate to and one that will see further urban renewal undertaken within the Nerang CBD."
This is the mission of Nerang2020 as it aims to promote the benefits and positives of living, working and playing in Nerang.
"What we know about Nerang is it has probably not been given the best reputation and part of that has to be Nerang itself wanting to aspire," says Harrison.
"What we are hoping to do is put in place a vision that is apolitical, and a vision that is aspiring to see Nerang create more jobs, create economic development, become a central hub and also to see urban renewal undertaken in Nerang.
"Nerang2020 is something that intends to be a positive legacy over the coming years and decades and it is about setting in train a vision that could really see Nerang become a more important focus point for the Gold Coast."
Cramp says his ultimate vision includes seeing more than a 'little bridge' connecting Nerang to the rest of the Gold Coast.
The state member plans to leverage his vision off the Commonwealth Games and the billions of dollars' worth of development that is scheduled in the surrounding area.
"There is $2.7 billion worth of investment between Nerang train station and Metricon Stadium, and I have been told figures upward of $5 billion will be approved and developed by the time the Games come," Cramp says.
"Nerang2020 is a five-year plan and is a great start, and it also puts us after the Commonwealth Games."
Cramp also wants to see the Gold Coast light rail making its way to Nerang.
"I have taken the time to talk to Surfside Buslines about possible rapid transit systems running through that area I know there is a lot of talk about the light rail, and I would love it," says Cramp.
"Like any local member, I would love to see it run from what is going to be the largest shopping centre in Queensland, Pacific Fair, through Nerang-Broadbeach Road, past our major stadium, Metricon, to Nerang Station an area that actually has the land."
Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.Connect via: Twitter