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Monday, November 21, 2005

Mega-centre death to us, say retailers [22nov05]

The Mercury: Mega-centre death to us, say retailers [22nov05]

CITY retailers say the proposed $100 million factory outlet and homemaker development near Hobart Airport will suck the lifeblood from the Hobart CBD and lead to store closures, job losses and vacant retail space.

With a total area of 158,582 square metres -- including about 62,000 square metres of shops and 2254 parking spaces -- the mega shopping development at Holyman Ave will be bigger than Hobart's retail centre and more than twice the size of Eastlands.

It will not only include a homemaker centre, a bulky goods centre and a trade do-it-yourself centre but a 100-store bargain price DFO factory outlet.

Hobart retailers say while they welcome competition from the centre -- which will be built by Melbourne-based Austexx and is planned to open in early 2007 -- the influx of retail outlets covering the area of five football fields isn't sustainable with Tasmania's small population.

Retail Traders Association executive officer Tony Steven fears jobs will be lost and shops forced to close in Hobart CBD as well as areas surrounding the development such as Sorell and Rosny.

There's a finite spending amount and if that's sucked out of the traditional centres it will have a big impact," Mr Steven said.

Barry Pickard, the longest serving president of the former City Heart Business Association, said the impact on city retailers would be severe.

"It will definitely affect retail margins and place a lot of retail businesses in jeopardy in the long term," he said.

He believed many people would still prefer to shop in the city.

"Shopping in the city is an experience for its choice and atmosphere and the aesthetics of shopping in a capital city," he said.

"And a big complex won't give you that."

Your Habitat owner and small business advocate Robert Parker said the development might only be 10 or 15 minutes' drive from the city but the Hobart mentality meant people might not travel that far.

Property Council of Tasmania executive director Stewart Wardlaw said regional planning principles needed to be implemented by the Government to avoid the uncontrolled oversupply of facilities.

The new development will not require planning approval from the Clarence City Council or the Resource Planning and Development Commission as it is Commonwealth land.

* The Hobart City Council discussed the development at a closed finance meeting last night and will raise the issue again at a southern Tasmanian councils meeting on Thursday before making an official statement.


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