The Society recently made a submission the City of Sydney in relation to Glebe Point Road retail.
The City had previously released its draft Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS) which is effectively a 20 year land planning strategy required by all Councils. The plans are intended to give direction to and coordinate planning decisions over the longer term and inform the planning controls that guide growth and change through development.
The draft LSPS contained 4 themes, infrastructure, liveability, productivity and sustainability.
Glebe Point Road retail has been such an integral part of village life in Glebe, it was appropriate that the submission responded within the context of the liveability theme.
Sadly, at the time of the submission, there are approximately 19 vacant shops along Glebe Point Road between Parramatta and Bridge Roads. The risks to Glebe Point Road are as follows:
Broadway Shopping Centre
Already reported as one of the highest (if not the highest) returning sales per m2 of any major shopping centre nationally.
The Centre has acquired surrounding land and buildings for future expansion, placing further pressure on Glebe Point Road retail.
The Centre provides 2 hours free parking,
Already a formidable restaurant offering, it will strengthen over time as quality restaurateurs seek a presence there. Parking is free for 2 hours during the day, and totally free after 6 pm.
A new Fish Market with more retailers and restaurants catering to international tourists and locals will be highly attractive to retailers and restaurateurs, again avoiding Glebe Point Road as a place to set up business. If it’s good, locals will patronize it.
A risk to all forms of traditional retailers.
Lack of entrepreneurial investment
Areas such as Kensington Street, Chippendale, and Enmore Road, Newtown have experienced a significant renaissance in recent years as a result of investment in existing buildings and new businesses either by entrepreneurial retailers, restaurateurs, landlords or a combination of each. The same cannot be said for Glebe Point Road.
There is no apparent significant investment in buildings or businesses along Glebe Point Road, such that there is an air of stagnation trending towards declination.
Lack of Property Ownership engagement
Anecdotal commentary suggests property owners along Glebe Point Road have little or no interest in stimulating retail performance, and often seem content to leave shops vacant (most likely in the interests of maintaining an imputed rent for valuation purposes) and or lack the entrepreneurial skills to attract new usages.
The issue of shops closing along Glebe Point Road was raised at the “Future Glebe” Panel at the 50th Festival. Panel discussion included a recommendation by Tone Wheeler (President, Australian Architecture Association, Adjunct Professor, Sustainable Design), to create greater levels of employment options with new businesses that draw additional customers to themselves and the retail shops that surround them.
The submission therefore went well beyond the conventional retail and commercial offer, suggesting that if the “main street” is to be relevant going forward, it will need to refocus it usages towards new start ups in the creative, innovative, technology and artistic sectors, filling spaces with a workforce and attracting new customers for everyone’s benefit. These new usages maybe part of normal life in say 10 years from now.
The submission focussed on changing the building heights at the rear lane and the Floor Space Ratio over the individual sites between Parramatta and Bridge Roads, (east side only). Any additional investment activity will only occur if an owner responds to this variation in the planning regulations. Therefore it is possible that we will not see any significant activity in the immediate short term and additional strategies will therefore need to be developed.
Given the Heritage Buildings and the Glebe Point Road Local Conservation area generally, the issue does cause some sensitivity. However, appropriately managed, there is an opportunity to integrate the heritage character of the buildings within a revitalised commercial and retail centre.
A do nothing scenario will mean the community looses both a vibrant main street / market place, and vacant heritage buildings will fall into stages of disrepair heading towards demolition.
A copy of the submission can be viewed at https://www.glebesociety.org.au/wp-content/uploads/GPR-retail-submission.pdf.