shopping centre
The ACT Government says the changes will make it easier for shopping centres to secure major tenants. Image – Canva.
  • Changes will increase maximum supermarket floor area from 1000m2 to 1500m2
  • As part of a wider strategy to develop local shopping centres

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government has announced proposed changes to size limits on shops that it says will support the viability of local shopping centres.

Mick Gentlemen, the Minister for Planning and Land Management – who was previously a security officer for Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating – said the change would allow shopping centres to secure an anchor tenant in a much more flexible way by increasing the cap on supermarkets floor area from 1000m2 to 1500m2.

“Local centres such as Giralang, Coombs and McKellar have struggled, leaving shops empty and community spaces under-developed,” Mr Gentleman said.

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

Mick Gentlemen, Minister for Planning and Land Management

As part of the ACT’s Planning Strategy 2018, the Territory Government committed to investigating planning mechanisms that could respond to the changing and the evolving role of local centres, which includes long-term viability. An emphasis was also placed on mixed-use developments and strengthening existing centres.

Mr Gentlemen said by increasing the cap, development of shopping centres can proceed and other businesses at the local centres can set up more easily.

“Canberrans love their local shops. They help turn a suburb into a community and bring services and jobs into the heart of a neighbourhood and we’ve especially seen the importance of these centres during the COVID pandemic.”

The draft variation will have an interim effect, which means the new provision will apply straight away across the Territory, which includes applying to development applications lodged on or after 7 May 2021.

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