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Inner West Courier

Inner City edition

April 8, 2008

Linda Daniele

Discount “$2 shops” could be hit by proximity controls similar to those in force for brothels under a plan being investigated by Marrickville Council.

Independent councillor Morris Hanna, who is also president of the local Chamber of Commerce and runs a menswear store on Marrickville Road, put forward the proposal.  He said “the emergence of the $2 shops has the potential to detract from the long-term financial sustainability and community interaction” within shopping strips in the area.

Independent councillor Victor Macri, who owns a hairdressing salon on the Marrickville Road shopping strip, said it was in the interests of all residents to have more variety and vibrancy in the area.

Councillor Macri said he would like to see specialised stores such as a book shop and music shop, as well as cafes that are open in the morning and evenings. “We’ve got the right mix of people here, but not the right mix of shops,” he said. “It’s a matter of if you build it, they will come.”

Council staff will now investigate planning controls to limit the number of discount stores, similar to those that exist to prevent brothels and other sex industry premises from clustering in an area.

Planning controls of this type have already been adopted for discount stores in a specific shopping precinct by Campbelltown Council and state that no more than nine can operate in the area, nor can one discount store be within 75 metres of another.

Independent Mayor of Marrickville, Dimitrios Thanos, said that while he had been in favour of proximity laws for brothels, a similar approach to discount stores was over regulation. “Where do you draw the line? Today it’s $2 shops, then it’s hairdressers, fruiterers, doctors, lawyers and supermarkets,” he said.

Councillor Thanos said that the tenant takes the risk that a business will work and that for Marrickville Road it was too late for planning controls. “What council should do is work on the quality and standard of appearance of shops. But telling people what they can and can’t operate, it’s wrong,” he said.

Greens Deputy Mayor, Peter Olive, said that there was a need for more diversity. “There’s a demographic change, but I don’t think it’s being encouraged by promoting the entry of fast food chains. It’s the exact opposite of a successful shopping strip like Newtown’s that has flourished, while Marrickville has fallen behind,” Cr Olive said.

“I certainly wouldn’t be putting $2 shops in the same category as brothels,” he said.

This article was first published in the Inner West Courier, Inner City edition, April 1, 2008.