28 AUGUST 2002
The Malta Environment & Planning Authority has published a Public Consultation Draft - Interim Retail Planning Guidelines for the retail sector.
These guidelines are aimed to assist investors in the preparation of development proposals along MEPAs planning policies. The importance and strategic influence of individual town centres throughout Malta and Gozo are focused upon, with a set of maps indicating town centre boundaries. The guidelines tackle the assessment of new developments and stress the need to keep new developments within the set boundaries. New development should be accessible by a variety of transport modes and the scale and form of such development should complement rather than detract from the existing retail facilities in town centres. This to ensure various practicalities which might, in the long run, hinder rather than highlight business opportunities. The document suggests proposals be made vis-à-vis the need to lessen travelling for consumers, providing convenience and ease of accessibility, reducing traffic congestion on the towns overall environment and also diminishing the range of activities and services which a town centre can support.
The guidelines are published following a MEPA study on the local retail sector which was published for public consultation in 2000.
Apart from a general indication on new developments, the guidelines also focus on the following types of outlets which have particular requisites in themselves: free-standing shopping malls; neighbourhood centres; supermarkets; discount food stores, showrooms, retail parks, factory centres, small shops outside designated centres and speciality shopping.
The guidelines also introduce the concept of Town Centre Health checks which are specific procedures meant to assess the role which a town centre is performing and how well it is doing it. By comparison of date on key indicators, the Health Check approach measures diversity of uses, retailer representation, shopping rents, proportion of vacant street level property, pedestrian flows and state of the town centre environmental quality, amongst others.
Basically an exercise in establishing trends and characteristics with the aim of assess the need for new policies and appropriate action where necessary.
of the proposed guidelines are available from MEPA offices in Floriana
and Victoria Gozo and on website www.mepa.org.mt