Policy EG 5: Promoting a Town Centre First Approach to Retail and Commerce

  1. The council will support the following hierarchy of retail centres in Cheshire East:
    1. The Principal Towns will be the main focus for high quality comparison retail, supported by a range of retail, service, leisure, tourism, office and other town centre-type uses, including residential.
    2. In the Key Service Centres, there will be a focus on the improvement of the convenience and comparison retail offer, with the potential to strengthen and enhance the retail offer, where suitable, as well as diversification to other uses such as offices, services, leisure, cultural and residential, as appropriate.
    3. In the Local Service Centres, there will be a focus on convenience and comparison retailing of an appropriate scale, plus opportunities for service uses and small-scale independent retailing of a function and character that meets the needs of the local community.
    4. In the other settlements and rural areas of the borough, there will be a focus on providing retail and services of appropriate scale and nature to meet the needs of the local community.
  2. Town centres will be promoted as the primary location for main town centre uses including retail, leisure, cultural and office development.
  3. The use of upper floors in town and other centres for non-retail uses will be supported, where appropriate.
  4. The retention and enhancement of the borough's markets will be encouraged.
  5. Small parades of shops will be protected where they are important to the day-to-day needs of local communities.
  6. Proposals that help develop the evening and night-time economy in the Principal Towns and Key Service Centres will be supported, where any negative impacts on amenity are addressed.
  7. Proposals for main town centre uses should be located within the designated town centres or on other sites allocated for that particular type of development. Where there are no suitable sites available, edge-of-centre locations must be considered prior to out-of centre locations. Edge-of-centre and out-of-centre proposals will be considered where:
    1. there is no significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the surrounding town centres; and
    2. it is demonstrated that the tests outlined in current government guidance can be satisfied.
    3. The sequential approach will not be applied to applications for small scale rural offices or other small scale rural development in line with the government guidance.


11.38 The National Planning Policy Framework states that 'planning policies should be positive, promote competitive town centre environments and set out policies for the management and growth of centres over the plan period'. It goes on to state that 'local planning authorities should:

11.39 It is important to determine appropriate policies for retailing, focused on town centres, as they are often a central part of community identity and contain the shops, services, pubs, restaurants, leisure, entertainment and other facilities that people wish to access locally, as well as businesses, employment and homes. Town centres are generally accessible by a wide range of transport modes and provide the greatest opportunity for linked trips. Proposals for leisure facilities should also refer to Policy SC 1 'Leisure and Recreation' in the Local Plan Strategy.

11.40 The council has developed a retail hierarchy of centres based on the Determining Settlement Hierarchy Study. The Study looks at a range of factors to determine the role and function of the borough's settlements and confirms their place in the hierarchy, which is made up of Principal Towns, Key Service Centres, Local Service Centres and other settlements. This approach defines where new development is best located in the borough.

11.41 In order to fully meet the identified needs of the borough, suitable sites for main town centre uses will be allocated in the Site Allocations and Development Policies Document.

11.42 Until they are reviewed, the existing boundaries and retail allocations will remain as they are in the 'saved' policies of the Congleton Borough Local Plan First Review, the Borough of Crewe & Nantwich Replacement Local Plan and the Macclesfield Borough Local Plan.

11.43 All town centre boundaries, Principal Shopping Areas and primary and secondary frontages will be defined in the Site Allocations and Development Policies Document, and shown on the Adopted Policies Map. Detailed policies defining which uses will be permitted in these locations will also be included in the Site Allocations and Development Policies Document.

11.44 The council is keen to preserve and enhance the vitality and viability of its existing town centres. Therefore, it is important to make sure that proposals for town centre uses located outside of these town centres do not have a significant adverse impact on these existing centres. These impacts could include an increase in the number of vacant units and a reduction in turnover. More information on town centre impacts can be found in government guidance, but the council will apply the sequential test set out in paragraph 26 of the NPPF when determining retail applications with a floorspace in excess of 2,500 square metres.

Key Evidence

  1. Cheshire Retail Study
  2. Town Centre Surveys
  3. Retail monitoring
  4. Determining the Settlement Hierarchy Study

Policy information


Previous page: Policy EG 4 'Tourism'  |  Cheshire East Local Plan policy index  |  Next page: Policy SC 1 'Leisure and Recreation'