Is the Queensland Investment Corporation’s Cooyong Street development another final nail in the coffin for existing small businesses in older Civic? The Council of Small Business (ACT) says yes it is. The ACT Chamber of Commerce and QIC say it isn’t. QIC have commissioned a small business impact statement, one of the statutory processes required by the ACT Planning and Land Authority as part of the development application. Those interested can download the impact statement and all of the other documents associated with development application 201129272 on the ACTPLA website.
The Canberra Times Tuesday 02 August 2011
City study for QIC ‘offensive, outrageous’
By John Thistleton
The Council of Small Business of Australia has slammed an impact statement which backs Queensland Investment Corporation’s latest expansion of the Canberra Centre, saying it’s just a promotional document for the proposal.
The impact statement concludes that new offices, apartments and shops, including a full-line supermarket and big homemaker centre, could boost trade rather than generate adverse impacts.
The council said the ACT Government should have appointed independent consultants instead of allowing QIC to choose its own. A spokesman for Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development Simon Corbell did not answer the question of why the Government didn’t get an independent report. He said the impact statement was required by the ACT Planning and Land Authority to be lodged with the development proposal. The ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports the mall’s expansion, saying without the Canberra Centre’s growth, the central business district would have died.
Replacing a large car park in Cooyong Street, the proposed “Precinct D” is the final stage of a major expansion which has added cinemas, national retailers, specialty shops and car parks to the City East mall.
Council of Small Business executive director Peter Strong, himself a retailer in Civic, said the Government had given the mall a monopoly on retail space to the detriment of independent operators. “There was a statement [in the report] that 2500 jobs would be created, which is quite outrageous,” Mr Strong said. “Where are those people coming from? A true impact statement says: here are the gains and here are the losses. So we are going to have 2500 jobs here, or 500 jobs, or 3000 jobs lost elsewhere.
“QIC cares nought about the Canberra community. It is making money for its shareholders in Queensland. The small landlords around Civic should be receiving equal consideration as QIC.” Mr Strong said the impact statement’s comments about outdated shopfronts, inferior merchandising and business acumen were offensive. “I got quite angry when I read that these big fellas, they will do whatever they want to do until someone stops them.”
ACT Chamber of Commerce chief executive Chris Peters said small businesses outside the mall had to reinvent themselves and try different approaches.
“They can’t afford to wait for customers to turn up to their doorstep.” Mr Peters said the Canberra Centre’s two previous expansions had been a boon for the city, creating vibrancy which had rubbed off on retailers inside and outside the mall. He said the Government would close the door on growth if it curbed QIC’s investment in Canberra. Unlike Woolworths and Coles, whose expansion is capped by the Government’s supermarket competition policy, QIC was providing a shopping centre for a stack of individual businesses.
In a statement, QIC said the study was “independently commissioned at the request of the ACT Government as per standard practice, and has been released for the information of the general public on the ACT Planning and Land Authority’s website.”
Many of the 250 retailers in the Canberra Centre were small businesses and QIC’s continued investment would increase opportunities by creating the operating environment and infrastructure for their business.
Note: copyright of the material in this clipping resides with Fairfax Media. Usage permitted in accordance with the Australian Copyright Act 1968, Section 42: Fair dealing for purpose of reporting news. Source: The Canberra Times – 02 August 2011