Enough customers for all

LAUNCESTON'S central business district has been a hot point of conversation in light of its many empty shopfronts.

A number of stimulus ideas have been proposed by its commercial promotions arm CityProm, including a sticker-based feedback scheme and discount incentives for CBD employees.

Plans to expand Prospect Vale Marketplace, on Westbury Road, have been approved.

Plans to expand Prospect Vale Marketplace, on Westbury Road, have been approved.

Despite the apparent need to stimulate commerce in Launceston city, many of its outer suburbs have had significant uptake in retail space and expansions.

Legana was Tasmania's fastest growing suburb in 2013, growing by 2.7 per cent, or 110 people.

It was closely followed by Summerhill-Prospect and Kings Meadows-Punchbowl areas in equal second - growing by 1.6 and 1.5 per cent respectively, or by 70 people.

Responses to Legana's growing population from West Tamar Council have included a proposition of a new school for the area and a $2 million land purchase.

The plan would allow for commercial development, such as cafes and childcare developments - a structure plan for the area also includes potential for retail outlets, cinemas, a gym and more.

West Tamar Mayor Barry Easther believes outer suburban retail precincts would not outweigh the role played by Launceston CBD.

``I think it will enhance the city of Launceston,'' Cr Easther said.

``The Greater Launceston Plan identified residential growth areas . . . Legana was one, that's why we decided to make a structure plan for that area.

``If it is going to grow, as identified by the GLP, we want to ensure that development is in a planned way and not ad hoc.''

He said bigger retailers may start looking outside of the CBD for developments, due to an increasing lack of available central commercial land.

Meander Valley Council has also created a structure plan for its Prospect and Blackstone Heights areas, which include growing their commercial sectors. 

Meander Valley Mayor Craig Perkins said the development of shopping zones would stimulate healthy competition within suburbs.

``Any commercial shopping area has the capacity to draw customers from any other area, be that Prospect Vale from the CBD, from Kings Meadows or any other location,'' Cr Perkins said.

``The challenge for the market places, suburban or CBD, is to be competitive in their offerings to provide better shopping experiences for the customer.''

The role of Launceston CBD should not be underestimated as a Northern service hub, according to Launceston general manager Robert Dobryznski.

Mr Dobryznski said the city centre still offered services, attractions, retail and accommodation that could not be matched by outer suburbs.

He said growing the city's own population base would be a key aspect in paving the way for commercial growth.

``The challenge for Launceston's CBD is in remaining a vibrant destination and ensuring that it has a wide mix of offerings to attract people and cater to their needs,'' Mr Dobryznski said.

``Having people who actually live in the heart of the city is extremely beneficial and its clear there is potential in Launceston's CBD for more inner city residential developments.''

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