Retail industry bodies welcome suggested rezoning
Ambitious proposals by the Productivity Commission to relax zoning and planning regulations to make it easier for new retail sites to be developed have been welcomed by the Urban Taskforce and the Australian Retailers Association.
The proposals are contained in the draft report on the Economic Structure and Performance of the Australian Retail Industry.
The draft report declares that Australian retail is suffering because of planning and zoning regulations that are complex and excessively prescriptive.
The six proposals covering planning and zoning reforms are:
Aaron Gadiel, chief executive of the Urban Taskforce, says retail productivity has suffering for a long time, courtesy of “brutal planning regulations”.
"We're pleased that the commission has unambiguously stated that governments should not consider the viability of existing businesses at any stage of the planning, rezoning or development assessment processes,” Gadiel says.
"This is an urgent wake-up call to every level of government," he says.
The Australian Retailers Association agrees with the suggested reforms.
ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman says it welcomes the commission’s acknowledgement that “planning and zoning restrictions are propagating the power imbalance between landlords and retailers at the negotiation table”.
The draft report also found that planning regulations that give businesses in some locations preference over others could be counterproductive.
The commission makes reference to numerous overseas examples to demonstrate that “stringent land use regulations are an important factor in constraining productivity growth in many countries”.
“Countries that generally have more flexible planning systems, such as the United States, have experienced higher rates of productivity growth in the retail sector than other countries with less flexible regulations,” the commission says.
“In short, planning and zoning regulation which restricts the location of retail outlets or store formats has a negative influence on retail productivity growth.”
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