ACT News


Hopes rise that 2016 is year of the suburban shopping centres

Small business traders have called for 2016 to be the year of the suburban shops as upgrades aimed at making the centres more attractive get under way. 

It may not enjoy the heavy foot traffic of the nearby Belconnen Westfield but cafe owner Natalie Legg said the Cook shopping centre was a "cool little community spot". 

She opened her little oink cafe - the only one at the Cook Place centre - nearly two years ago and plans to open a restaurant/bar next door around August. 

"There are people who are loyal to the local shops - 80 per cent of customers would be repeat customers - but we do still get people who didn't know the shops were here," she said. 

"So there could be more publicity and having some lawns so it's not just the car parks and beautifying the environment always helps."

Cook Friendly Grocer Daniel said there were many benefits small shopping centres like Cook had to offer. 


"There's getting to know the owners, we know all the customers by the first name, we support local schools and there's a great variety here - you can get a haircut, have your jewellery cleaned and have a coffee or a beer," he said. 

He welcomed the $850,000 ACT government investment for Cook Place which would be used to reclaim two car spaces for public space furniture and a drinking fountain and install new pathways and ramps, extra lighting and an additional disabled parking spot. 

"There's been very little spent here for 15 years," he said. 

Similar works worth $550,000 would be completed at Kambah shopping centre on Mannheim Street and works worth $360,000 at Rivett shopping centre. 

Jeweller Stacey Donnelly said a lot of her clients were older ladies who enjoyed the easier access the shops provided compared with the major mall in the Belconnen CBD. 

After a year that was a "bit shaky" for clients in 2015 with both public service and Mr Fluffy uncertainties, she had been happily "shellshocked" by excellent sales results since reopening this year. 

The latest Sensis Business Index showed ACT businesses surveyed were the most optimistic in the nation about capital expenditure, although the region recorded a decline in business confidence in the December quarter, from 47 to 38 on the company's scorecard, still well above levels from a year ago. 

New Minister for Transport and Municipal Services Meegan Fitzharris said works on the three projects were planned to be finished by May. 

"Local shopping centres are really wonderful places to shop, meet friends and enjoy our open space," she said.