Pennant Hills businesses living with uncertainty

PAUL TAYLOR, MEMBER OF THE PENNANT HILLS DISTRICT CIVIC TRUST

Pennant Hills businesses and their employees may be the “collateral damage” of the Town Centre Master Plan. There are lessons from the Beecroft experience with very few if any of the previous businesses on the site of the Beecroft redevelopment returning. To prevent the same scenario happening to Pennant Hills, strategic planning for a Master Plan is required. This is especially important for business owners, employees, customers and service provision for the community.

For businesses to survive there needs to be planning around where businesses can move to during redevelopment, parking and be timely in their delivery of the Master Plan. Currently there is no scope for business to move outside the business district due to zoning rules. When premises are purchased by a developer, businesses will simply have to close and their staff will have to find other jobs unless the business can relocate. Closing a business for at least a year during redevelopment is not economically viable. Any changes to medium density rules will also make it harder to relocate a business and comply with parking requirements. If the Council allows appropriate rezoning some businesses may be able to move outside the current business area, remain in Pennant Hills and survive.

During the redevelopment of Beecroft many businesses suffered due to a lack of parking.  Recently there was difficulty parking in the construction phase with the development on Fisher Avenue. We welcome the Council’s plan to ensure all trades park at Pennant Hills Park, provided the logistics are practical and enforceable in relation to getting equipment and supplies onto site. Arguably a staged redevelopment is required to ensure enough parking.

Due to the delay in the release of a Master Plan, business owners are unable to plan and invest in the medium to long term with certainty. If a business is forced to close in the medium term, the owners are reluctant to employ or invest significantly in beautifying premises. Yarrara Road shops are likely to retain its drab street scape until certainty is provided.

Hopefully we can learn from the Beecroft experience and collaborate with council, business owners and customers to devise a plan to manage the construction phase. We hope the Master Plan is sympathetic to existing businesses while still improving the amenity of the community town centre.  

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