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5 tips for franchisees – getting your new shop approved by Eli Gescheit of Navon Retail

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Opening a new shop can be a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. It can also be complicated if it’s your third or thirtieth shop. Considering franchisees are investing so much time, money and effort into opening a new shop, it’s essential that the planning approval requirements are properly understood.

In 2012-2013 it took NSW Councils an average of 73 days to assess a Development Application (DA) for a commercial development. However it took Councils an average of only 18 days to determine a Complying Development. It is therefore advisable to check what type of approval (if any) is required as this will significantly benefit your business timeframes and save you money.

1. Understand the Fast Track System

Did you know that not every new shop fitout requires Council approval? The NSW Commercial and Industrial Code permits low impact changes to shops to be fast tracked. Under this system, the proposal can either be considered Exempt Development (no approval necessary) or Complying Development (approval required by a certifier).

If the proposal does not fit in to either of these categories, you will need to lodge a DA which needs to be assessed by Council. The timeframe for the DA process is unfortunately lengthy but it is often the only way to get your new shop open for business.

2. Check the Previous Approval

I recommend you check whether the previous business operating from the shop obtained planning approval. It’s imperative to check this because it will determine what type of approval (if any) will be required for your new shop. The approval may contain operational conditions such as the hours of operation, number of staff and customers.

3. Accessibility

In 2011 the Federal Government introduced strict regulations for shops to be accessible for people with disabilities. When inspecting the shop check if there is a disabled toilet, a ramp at the entrance and whether someone in a wheelchair could access all public areas including the bathrooms. Not being fully aware of your responsibilities to upgrade the shop may break your budget.

4. Dealing with Real Estate Agents

When dealing with the real estate agent, remember they are purely trying to lease or sell the shop as quickly as possible. Ensure you are well informed about approval requirements.

If approval is required, I recommend you negotiate a lease-free period while it gets assessed. This is an essential step because it can take a long time for the new shop to get approved. The last thing you need is paying for an empty shop while your proposal is assessed.

5. Consider New Signage

Some signage can be installed without Council approval. If you’re planning to install new signage make sure it’s all covered in the proposed new shop. The last thing you need is to get the shop approved and then realise down the track that you want to add new signs.

Contact the Author

To contact Eli email[email protected] or call (02) 8355 7108