Planning changes to size of local shopping centres

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The near vacant Coombs shopping centre. Photo: Supplied

SIZE limits of shopping centres have been relaxed under a significant change to planning laws to revitalise a sagging retail industry.

The ACT government has signed off to expand the floor space from 1000sq m to 1500sq m that also ensures suburban retail outlets can secure supermarkets as anchor tenants.

It reverses a controversial 2015 red-tape decision made on regulations restricting the size of shops that has threatened their viability.

The latest move has also breathed new life into the Giralang development, near Belconnen, which has sat dormant for more than 15 years.

Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said new draft variation laws are basically in effect immediately with the submission of development applications.

“We have had a response for Girralang, suggesting this is a good move,” he said, “but we would like to see other shopping centres come forward as well.”

Mr Gentleman admitted that retail outlets in McKellar and Coombs have also struggled for tenancy, leaving “community spaces” under developed.

Coombs Shopping Centre has been left with one Indian Grocery retailer and negotiations to fill up remaining vacancies have reportedly broke down over costs of rent and lease.

“While we do have plenty of thriving local (retail) centres in Canberra, this change is aimed at helping suburban shops where development has stalled over difficulties of attracting a supermarket tenant,” Mr Gentleman said.

“Canberrans love their local shops.

“They help turn a suburb into a community, and bring in services and jobs into the heart of a neighbourhood and, we have especially seen the importance of these centres during the Covid pandemic.”

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