Urban Taskforce | Policy Agenda
Fact sheet: Allowing prosperous business parks
01 January 2011The need for business parks represents a shift - in developed countries such as Australia - towards knowledgebased activities in industries such as pharmaceuticals, information and communications and advanced manufacturing.
There is a trend towards cleaner industries and changing work and business practices.
The need for business parks
Government planners often talk of employment lands which they define to be industrial areas which predominantly accommodate manufacturing, distribution and noncentre urban services such as panel beating and concrete batching plants.
However, high technology industrial space has a significantly higher proportion of office space. In a conventional industrial zone office premises are not permitted, other than as a minor ancillary use to, say, a factory or warehouse. So many developments built for high technology businesses, particular those with more than 50 per cent office space, are often not going to be permissible in an industrial zone.
That's why, in recent decades, the need for business and technology parks has emerged. These may contain a mixture of research, manufacturing, distribution and office activities and will also be regarded by planners as a form of employment land.
The need for business parks represents a shift - in developed countries such as Australia - towards knowledgebased activities in industries such as pharmaceuticals, information and communications and advanced manufacturing. There is a trend towards cleaner industries and changing work and business practices.
Business parks are important for attracting new investment to a region. They can help attract higher wage, higher skilled, internationally active businesses. This includes attracting investment from high valueadded manufacturing industries, which demands welllocated and wellserviced employment lands.
Government planners are often reluctant to zone for business parks. Typically they assume that the office development is a zero sum game - that any office development in a business park will come at the expense of a nearby strategic centre. This is simply not true.
Business parks are often made up of purpose-designed large-floor plate buildings. Tenants are rarely balancing up whether to locate in a suburban infill location or a business park.
In a suburban area of a major city, a business parks biggest competitor in attracting tenants is often the central business district (CBD), other business parks and CBD locations in other states.
It is wrong to view the benefits created by business parks as something that must be balanced against costs to a strategic centre. Prohibiting one form of development in a particular area does not mean that investment will flow to a planning authoritys favoured area for development.
In any event, even if business parks gave tenants more choice wouldnt the increased competition amongst landlords encourage investment, and ensure the floorspace is not priced above economically efficient levels?
Prohibiting retail and other shopfronts
Business park zones generally prohibit retail premises and service-orientated shopfronts such as hairdressers, dry-cleaners, etc. The prohibition on retail is curious, given that business parks create concentrations of people engaged in employment. Workers are prevented from accessing retail premises on site and instead they are forced to travel somewhere else for supermarket and related shopping.
Clearly premises such as supermarkets, cake shops and clothing stores are the kind of services that could meet the daily needs of workers in a business park.
A business park should be a vibrant place, where workers have the choice to leave their workplace and stroll down to a retail district at lunchtime or before or after work.
For more information (and source details) please read our fact sheet: