The cost of retail leases in Murray Street is exacerbated because many buildings are underutilised, due to restrictions imposed through the National Building Code.
A solution to this problem may be in sight, following representations made by local MP Tony Piccolo to the Planning Minister John Rau.
Mr Piccolo recently wrote to the Minister about a number of local small business owners in Gawler’s CBD who have raised concerns with him about regulations which prohibit them from using their premise to their full economic potential.
Mr Piccolo said the matter was recently raised at a meeting of the Gawler Business Development Group Board meeting.
“I undertook to investigate what can be done to assist small business owners to make better use of their buildings,” he said.
“To help reduce rental costs burdens, boost business activity and create new job opportunities.”
The Gawler Business Development Group Board member drew the Minister attention to the State Government’s initiative to revitalise underutilised buildings, in particularly through the coordination service, presently offered for buildings in Adelaide’s CBD.
Mr Piccolo said Gawler’s CBD has a number of two and three story buildings, located in the commercial historic conservation zone, whereby basements and first floors are left vacant because they do not meet a number of building code regulations.
“While I appreciate the need for compliance with these regulations, the empty floors are a huge financial burden to landowners, tenants and potential investors,” he said.
“In many cases, only 30 percent of the available space in a building can be used for commercial purposes.
“Because of the historic nature of these buildings, the costs of upgrading them to meet code requirements is prohibitive.
“I’m not suggesting that all spaces would be suitable for all uses, but a case by case approach could deliver greater outcomes for owners, tenants and the town generally.
“This is a barrier to investment in the Gawler Town Centre.”
Mr Piccolo said a number of small business owners in the area were “keen to activate these underutilised spaces.”
“I’ve asked the Minister to explore if there is an opportunity to extend the coordination service from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure to the Town of Gawler,” he said.
“I believe this will greatly assist many of the Town’s building owners and investors.
“DPTI could also provide advice and assistance to the Gawler Council officers in relation to the ‘Minister’s Specification SA: Upgrading health and safety in existing buildings’.
“This will also assist in stimulating economic growth opportunities in our township,” Mr Piccolo said.