Legislative changes are helping bulky goods outlets, writes Philip Hopkins.

A BULKY goods centre to be built at Epping in Melbourne’s north has been given a fillip by recent Baillieu government planning changes.

Private developer, the McMullin Group, will build the centre, dubbed Epping House N Home, in the Northpoint Enterprise Park, a 120-hectare estate in the commercial and industrial heart of the City of Whittlesea.

McMullin’s development director John Purdey said the centre would tap into Whittlesea’s forecast population growth of 10,000 new residents per year for the next six years. Epping’s catchment is now estimated at 209,000.

The centre will be located on the corner of Edgars Road and Cooper Street, about 1.5 kilometres from High Street and Epping Plaza.

The establishment of the bulky goods centre was given a shot in the arm by amendments to retailing legislation by Minister for Planning Matthew Guy.

The policy changes revised the bulky goods definition, broadening the scope of retail activities that could be included in such centres. Further, the previously restrictive minimum floor space requirement of 1000 square metres was dissolved.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s director of retail leasing Jaycen Willox said the move brought flexibility and clarity to both current and prospective tenants. ”Restrictive minimum floor space requirements under the previous scheme were thwarting the capacity of growth within the bulky goods sector,” he said.

Broadening the tenant sizes and products would boost demand for space in bulky goods centres and underpin confidence in the sector. He said retail

outlets now eligible included recreational and sporting goods, baby and children goods and homewares.

Mr Purdey said the changes had shifted the balance within the broader retail spectrum, allowing bulky goods to compete in areas from which they were traditionally excluded.

The 30,000-square-metre Epping bulky goods centre, which is expected to open late next year, will be built in two stages. The first stage will be an anchor tenant of 14,000 square metres, with 12-to-15 small tenants taking up the remaining space. The centre will be valued at more than $35 million.

The McMullin Group previously developed bulky goods centres in Chirnside Park and Thomastown. The Epping site was designed by Leffler Simes Architects, who designed the Springvale Homemaker Centre. The leasing is being done by CBRE.

Mr Purdey was upbeat about the centre’s future, saying there were more than 42,000 traffic movements passing the Cooper Street frontage daily. This was expected to grow to 58,000 by 2021.

A consultant’s report found that residents would spend $2416 per person on bulky goods in 2014-15, the centre’s first full year of trading.

The bulky goods centre will join a range of tenants at Northpoint that include an automotive parts supplier to Ford Australia, Sumitomo Australia; Mexican food company Gruma Asia & Oceania; and US tool company Stanley Black & Decker. Construction of Northpoint began in 2000 and is half complete.