The NSW government has agreed to adopt planning reforms for large-format retail recommended by the Retail Expert Advisory Committee (REAC), in a big win for the sector.
On Wednesday, planning minister Anthony Roberts said he would enact the recommendations by REAC, which allow for supermarket chains such as Aldi and discount retailers such as The Reject Shop to trade alongside traditional bulky goods retailers, following an exhibition period.
Specifically, the committee’s report recommended the development of a state-wide retail planning policy and a change in Local Environmental Plans used by local councils to guide development.
There will also be less wording ambiguity in planning.
While the Large Format Retail Association welcomed the change and commended the committee for its recommendations, it said changes were not sufficient to allow retailers to operate on a variety of zoned land.
In contrast, Victoria adopted reforms to simplify and deregulate planning zones to drive competition and investment in the retail sector four years ago. Supermarkets and smaller retail outlets will be allowed to operate in large suburban homemaker centres, increasing foot traffic and retail???activity.
“Significant changes in the retail sector have occurred over the past 6 years. During this time, the LFRA has been advocating for the Victorian definition of ‘Restricted Retail Premises’ to replace the current NSW definition for Bulky Goods Premises,” association chief executive Philippa Kelly said.
“Since Victoria introduced the new, approved definition, along with the removal of a minimum floor space requirement and the allowance of our sector onto industrial land there has been enormous investment and employment injected into the Victorian economy.”
The association, which represent large-format retailers, owners, investors, developers and service suppliers has rallied for about ten years for these reforms to take place, amid backlash from large shopping centre owners, including Scentre Group, Vicinity Centres and Stockland.
“It is the most encouraging sign by the NSW Government that we are heading in the right direction together. We are specifically excited that they have acknowledged the large amount of floor space our industry successfully occupies,” Ms Kelly said.
“Members want them removed so they can, open more more stores, employ more people and better serve the community by giving them greater accessibility.”
Ms Kelly now wants to push for the reforms to be included in the Greater Sydney Commission three cities plan as a next step.
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