Independent shop owners across NSW say a proposed new retail planning policy by the state government will ruin them.
Under the banner Love Your Local Shops, independent retailers launched an advertising campaign last week targeting local politicians.
Mark Crutcher, independent supermarket owner and head of the Independent Retailers of NSW and ACT, says that if introduced, the Draft Centres Policy will mean open slather retail development by the major players like Woolworths and Coles, which will increase their dominant 80 per cent share of the dry grocery market.
“Shopkeepers and small businesses throughout NSW have seen right through this flawed plan and grocers, butchers, hardware retailers and other small businesspeople are getting together to let their MPs and the government know how they feel,” said Crutcher.
“The policy being contemplated would mean that new centres would be developed, ignoring the impacts on existing retail and commercial premises. It stands to ruin existing neighbourhood shopping centres, and as a result small businesses and communities.
“There is already compelling evidence of how unchecked growth of shopping centres away from existing centres can turn once vibrant town centres into ghost towns… ,” he added.
Local councils across the state, including Leichhardt Municipal Council, have also expressed serious concerns about the policy. In a report in April the council said that Draft Policy did not address the complexities of development in centres.
“Effective centres are places which are the focus of community activity and which achieve a good balance of employment, social, retail and residential opportunities supported by good transport links,” the report said.
Drummoyne MP Angela D’Amore, who has taken a keen interest in the vital detail of the draft policy, said she agreed with the Independent Retailers’ solution to the policy’s obvious flaws.
“There is clearly a need for an effective competition test to be included into the centres policy.
“This would ensure major retail chains don’t take an even greater market share and enables others to join the market, while providing independents with an opportunity to maintain their share,” she said.