THE NSW Government has accepted an independent report recommending planning regulation changes to reflect the shifting landscape of retail trading, including the introduction of a wider range of shopping options and the requirement for mini distribution points and flexible hours of operation.
The Department of Planning and Environment's Deputy Secretary for Policy, Strategy & Governance, Alison Frame, said the NSW Government last year established the Retail Expert Advisory Committee (REAC), made up of experts tasked with finding out what can be done better in planning for the retail sector.
"With the rise of new retail styles, customers are expecting retail to be available when they want it, where they want it and how they want it," Ms Frame said.
"Our current retail planning system is based on the old shopfront and shopping centre bricks-and-mortar style and is not geared for the demands from modern-day retailers and customers.
"With the rise of companies such as Amazon, which offers 24-hour delivery, we need to make sure they can operate when and where they need.
"Mini-distribution points, located where customers are living and open 24-hours a day are the only way to service those needs, but our existing retail planning system doesn't allow for that.
"Customers want lifestyle retailing – a combination of retail, dining and entertainment precincts. They want to be able to eat a meal while they shop for plants, and see a show at the same place they eat."
The report pointed out that customers also wanted a wide-range of shopping options where they lived.
"Whether that be in regional parts of the state, or in new developments in the city, people are less willing to travel to large retail precincts to do their shopping. Our existing retail planning system doesn't recognise this," Ms Frame said.
"These changes are happening around the world and NSW retailers have been calling for them.
"We need to modernise our planning system to ensure it's not stuck in the days of no Sunday trading, nine-to-five business hours and large retail hubs.
"The REAC has now returned with their findings and the NSW Government has accepted their recommendations to modernise the retail planning system."
The recommendations are to:
- Develop a new planning policy which will shape and support the future of retail to make it more flexible and competitive;
- Identify what the trends, changes and outcomes for retailers and customers are, and consider them much earlier in the planning process;
- Develop a state-wide retail plan to offer retailers surety, customers a greater range of choice and councils a consistent plan for every part of NSW; and
- Offer clearer guidance to industry and councils on where retail should go, such as close to new development and in regional NSW.
The changes will mean the government can approve appropriate development where it needs to happen without the limitations the current system places on retail areas across the state.
In line with a recommendation of the REAC report, the Department has commenced reviewing retail definitions and proposes an amendment to the 'bulky goods premises' definition in the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan. An explanation of the proposed amendment is available for public consultation from today until 13 December 2017.
More information about the proposed amendment to the definition of 'bulky goods premises' is available from the Department of Planning and Environment website at <http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Have-Your-Say/Community-Consultations>.