A recent article by Clay Lucas in The Age week featured an announcement by planning minister Matthew Guy to broaden the categories of retailers permitted to trade in “big box” shopping centres. This is bad news for Banyule and the cause of sustainable urban development.
Such developments stimulate additional road traffic as customers travel to these centres which are often built on industrial sites rather than in recognised retail locations nearer to where people live.
Their business model is based on cheap land, free car parking and poor public transport access. The cost advantage afforded by this significant public subsidy provides these big box retailers with the opportunity to undercut retail operators in properly designated commercial areas in activity centres close to where most people live, including strip shopping centres.
This model permits the “category killer” approach that actually destroys retail competition (and employment) in designated commercial centres like Heidelberg, Ivanhoe and Greensborough. And with a lot more car miles on the clock road congestion also increases.
As I understand it, Minister Guy’s proposed strategic plan for Melbourne (the replacement for Melbourne 2030) is to be announced for community “consultation” pretty soon. With this Victorian government announcement on the big box shopping centres it looks like we have got a major fight on our hands, as RMIT’s Michael Buxton foreshadowed in late November 2011 at the Friends of Banyule annual general meeting.