Danish cities smaller than 40 000 residents should have the right to decide themselves whether a hypermarket or a shopping center is allowed to establish outside the city centre.
That is the opinion from Venstre, that now wants to change the framework of the debated Danish Planning Act.
”For Dansk Supermarked, enforcing this proposal mean that a handful of Bilka grocery-stores can open. If all Danes want it,” says Mads Hvitved Grand.
Hypermarkets, Ikea and larger shopping centers should be allowed to establish themselves freely in all the towns where each municipality wish.
That is how the liberal Venstre party sets the stage for a showdown with the current rigid framework of the Planning Act for the construction of malls and department stores, reports DR.
The proposal is part of Venstre’s proposal to liberalize the Planning Act.
Several smaller cities have been forced to deny new establishments from large retail and shopping centre players. In Næstved the Planning Act today prevents the municipality to provide Ikea to build a warehouse. And in Randers municipality has tried in vain to get permission to set up a grocery store just outside the city, reports DR.
”The municipality should be allowed to plan whether to build a shopping center in its municipality, no matter how large municipality. This will ensure growth in all parts of the country,” says Venstre spokesman Thomas Danielsen.
The location of the large centers has for years been one of the great fights in Danish politics. Critics fear that the city centers will be emptied if the smaller shops may close as a consequence of the large centers.
”If there is a merchant who has to close, then it is better that he was closing because of competition than because of emigration,” he tells DR, adding that it is far from certain that the small shops have to close.
Today the rules are such that a city must have at least 40,000 residents to be allowed to give the grocery store, Ikea or a mall with many shops the opportunity to build. Venstre previously wanted to change the limit to 27,000, but now completely remove it. And today only only the five largest cities – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg and Esbjerg – can build malls outside the city center.
”If there is an Ikea looking to establish itself in West Jutland, politicians should not stand in the way of it,” says Thomas Danielsen.
Dansk Supermarked commented on Tuesday. Saying that it will increase competition and increased competition benefits consumers. This means lower prices, longer opening hours and more choices.
”Basically it is a sound principle to put decisions relating to the commercial structure and procurement conditions out locally,” Communications Director Mads Hvitved Grand said.
He claims the proposal will not result that there will be a shopping center on every other street corner, as critics else want it to look like. Instead it means that local politicians with a finger on the pulse with the local population can decide how store structure should look in their immediate environment.
”We believe that the local population is the right people to decide how the retail environment will look like in their area. For Danish Supermarket, enforcing the Liberal proposals mean that a handful of grocery-stores can open. If all Danes want it. In addition, a number of the Føtex department stores, which today has become too small to meet customer wants and needs, could be expanded,” says Mads Hvitved Grand.