Currently, we require any new building on side roads off Beacon and on Bevan to have retail space on the ground floor. As a result we have too much retail space available in the village centre. In addition, the requirement for retail space forces the developers to build higher buildings to help pay for the retail space that is difficult to lease out or sell. This causes developers to build higher structures to cover the costs.
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I agree on this point. COVID 19 has caused a major shift toward online shopping which will not magically disappear when the pandemic is over. That means less demand for retail space. A 2017 survey of Sidney business showed that at that time the majority of business in the downtown core SBIA area was service; banks, hair stylists, medical etc.. Restaurants and service can only fill so much space.
I agree, buildings need to built as flexible as possible, not just to some random autocratic desire. Why not have ground floor residential that could be converted to commercial should the need arise? Why not change the regulations to allow current buildings with vacant space to convert to residential? Why not eliminate parking minimums so that people can be housed and so the town is not undercutting the ability for private property owners to earn income off parking.