Group centres were established as part of a hierarchy of shopping centres, with local centres the smallest, then group centres and finally the town centres. In 2011, a size limit of 1,000 square metres trading area was placed on supermarkets in local centres. Most are much smaller at 300-800 square metres which means they cannot compete with the larger supermarkets on price and product range and many have closed. Group centres usually have full range supermarkets of 2,400 square metres minimum trading space.
A brief critique of the five Belconnen group centres is included in this section to facilitate discussion about how Hawker might, desirably, develop in the future.
During the Hawker draft master planning exercise of 2011, the planning consultants used several terms to describe desired characteristics:
- shared zone – a section of road that accommodates vehicular and pedestrian traffic along with on-street parking, which is deemed to be safer because the congested conditions cause drivers to slow down;
- shop-top residential – accommodation above ground-level shops;
- passive surveillance – the mere presence of residents is supposed to discourage vandalism and other anti-social behaviour;
- active shopfronts – external shop walls should have glass windows and doors to encourage the feeling of activity;
- walkability – the ease and comfort of walking in an area, which might be affected by the presence and quality of footpaths, traffic and road conditions, land use patterns, building accessibility and safety.
Master plans are concerned with the layout and content of an area, i.e. roads and zoning. For instance, they can decide whether surface car parks will continue to service users of the centre, whether there will be parking congestion on roads and whether the number of parking spots will be restricted.
Master plans cannot control what types of businesses will choose to set up in a particular location. Likewise, they have no control over maintenance of any building or area except for public space. Many of the improvements people have indicated they would like to see in any redevelopment of Hawker are not within the ambit of a master plan.
Some examples of these are: