Big retailers get behind rezoning proposal

The Shopping Centre Council of Australia and Westfield have come out in support of the Productivity Commission’s suggestions to relax zoning laws and allow more retail space.

Writing in the SCCA’s latest weekly newsletter, executive director Milton Cockburn says the commission’s recommendations regarding activity centres will lead to fairer competition.

“Its key point on planning is that ‘competition among retailers is most intense when they are geographically close’, and this is the essence of activity centres planning policies,” he says.

“The commission’s specific recommendations address the removal of unnecessary planning restrictions, particularly to facilitate all retail formats being able to locate within activity centres. If implemented these recommendations will lead to greater, and fairer, competition and we support them,” he says.

The SCCA also supports the commission’s stance on not proposing further retail tenancy regulation and that trading hours should be completely deregulated, allowing retailers to trade “when they feel it might be most profitable to do so”.

Westfield’s response was more general in nature with a spokesperson telling Property Observer that it “broadly welcomes the draft report and recommendations of the Productivity Commission in relation to the economic structure and performance of the retail industry”. 

In its second quarter Brisbane retail report, Colliers says the proposal to deregulate shopping hours in all states including on public holidays  “should benefit Queensland’s retail market significantly with the opportunity to extend trading hours” from the current restrictions. 

A spokesperson for Myer says the department store will not be commenting beyond what it said in its submission to the inquiry. 

In its submission, Myer complained that Australian retailers pay higher rents than retailers in all the other major countries in the world, in addition to significantly higher infrastructure costs and taxes.

“As a result, our cost of doing business is higher, and it is harder for Myer and other Australian retailers to compete on a world scale,” Myer’s submission says.

In its submission Westfield claimed the rents it charges tenants are fair.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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