MORE south-west shoppers would travel to Geelong and Mount Gambier rather than Warrnambool because of large new retail developments, property consultant David Turner has predicted.
He cited a $100 million expansion of the Waurn Ponds shopping centre and Mount Gambier Marketplace which has a Big W and Masters Home Improvement stores.
“Central Warrnambool needs more large attractor stores to bring shoppers in,” he said.
“Retailing trends have changed — you can’t rely on small retailers to be the major drawcards.
“On a national regional city-by-city comparison Warrnambool would have the lowest representation of major national retail chains.
“But there are no suitable sites in the central area.”
He has suggested a retail hub in the railway precinct by moving the central station to Deakin University and using the Grace Avenue off-street car park area.
The suggestion for retailing in the old railway precinct was canvassed earlier in a masterplan released by the city council in February 2010, but it will sit on the shelf unless VicTrack and VicRail decide to modernise the area, he said.
Mr Turner said Warrnambool’s CBD was only marginally bigger than Horsham’s, which had a much smaller population, and should have much more land available for retail growth.