05/11/2009 - 00:00

Retail readies for new policy

05/11/2009 - 00:00

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DEVELOPERS and shopping centre owners are making significant investments to capitalise on the state government’s Activity Centres planning policy.

DEVELOPERS and shopping centre owners are making significant investments to capitalise on the state government’s Activity Centres planning policy.

A key element of the plan released by Planning Minister John Day in July is the annulment of maximum floor space guidelines for retail centres.

At the time of the plan’s release, Mr Day said the new guidelines encouraged mixed-use developments, incorporating health, education and entertainment facilities, while medium to high-density residential developments would also be integrated.

Lease Equity managing director Jim Tsagalis told WA Business News there had already been significant investment made in preparing for the new policy, with legislation expected early next year.

“There’s been a lot of investment made in development plans, how to accord to the new development envelope or footprint that’s been put out by the government, and people are trying to interpret that, as a springboard into the future development,” Mr Tsagalis said.

The new policy would open the door for residential and retail property developers to form lasting partnerships, he said.

“We’re going to see a lot of groups interpreting what it means, because the interesting thing about the policy is it’s not necessarily only for shopping centre developers to take advantage of,” Mr Tsagalis said.

“It’s just as important for residential land developers to say ‘how does this affect what I’m doing?’, and maybe partnering with shopping centres and saying this is what the policy’s prescribing, mixed use, high streets and what have you.”

Retail leasing agents Burgess Rawson director Cameron Hopkins said the draft activity centres policy would benefit everyone involved in the retail sector.

“The consumer will have enhanced access, choice and hopefully a safer place to be, the retailer has more people in the catchment area, and the owner has the opportunity to expand and enhance their asset,” Mr Hopkins said.

“Shopping centre owners will have to consider residential opportunities around the activity centre, which promotes a broader view than just a focus on the retail shopping centre.

“Shopping centres will become activity centres where people live, work, shop, get entertained and can either walk or catch the bus/train home.”

Perron Group chief executive Ian Armstrong, whose company owns Belmont Forum and Cockburn Gateway shopping centres, said floor space caps had constrained the growth of shopping centres in Western Australia.

“If you just look statistically at shopping centres versus the rest of the country, our shopping centres have been constrained,” he said.

“They haven’t grown to the size and the level of variety that centres over east have, so it has had an effect.”

 

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