Out of Control Policy Blog

Retail and Flat Earth Planning

Yesterday's New Zealand Herald ran an article by Owen McShane that hits the nail on the head regarding attempts by planners to regulate retail in the interest of protecting "traditional," main street retailers:

    Where regulators have tried to protect mainstreet shopping, they have...devastated the retailing sector.

    The regulators are well-intentioned - they do not set out to reduce employment in retailing, raise rents and prices, and choke off innovation and change.

    So why do they get it so wrong? We expect our planners to look to the future. Why do they attempt to lock us into the retailing patterns of the past?

    The problem lies with their belief in a false theory. You will have problems with your navigation if you believe the earth is flat.

    The reports and planning documents that regulators use to justify their protection of mainstreet retailing centres and their opposition to "big box retail" and shopping malls claim consistently that protecting "the traditional retail centres" will maintain, or even restore, "vibrant local communities".

    This is a seductive claim. Sadly it is wrong. Places do not create communities. Communities create places.

Read the whole thing.

(hat tip: Planetizen)

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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