Policy RET 7: Supporting the vitality of town and retail centres

  1. In line with LPS Policy EG 5 'Promoting a town centre first approach to retail and commerce', town centre locations are the primary location for main town centre uses to support their long term vitality and viability.
  2. Primary shopping areas are defined on the adopted policies map for principal town centres and town centres.
  3. In a primary shopping area, local centre or local urban centre: 
    1. development proposals for use class E(a) retail development or investment to enhance existing use class E(a) retail provision will be supported in principle;
    2. development proposals involving the loss of main town centre uses will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that:
      1. there is no reasonable prospect of the existing use of the premises, or another main town centre use, continuing in the premises or on the site in the foreseeable future because of market demand; and
      2. for primary shopping areas, the proposal does not unacceptably undermine the predominant character of the primary shopping area where retail uses (use class E(a)) are concentrated.
  4. In a local centre or local urban centre, in addition to Criterion 3(ii)(a) above, development proposals should be of a scale commensurate with the centre’s role and function.

Supporting information

9.32  The policy is consistent with the introduction of Class E, F1 and F2 use classes which seek to respond to the rapid and changing retail environment. The primary shopping areas remain the focus of retail uses in town centres and the policy seeks to support their vitality and viability. The retail market is continuously changing and responding to societal change, particularly around internet shopping and changing technology. Therefore, it is recognised that the focus of town centres may change over time towards the introduction of leisure uses, the emphasis on the evening/night time economy, and increased flexibility in the wider town centre boundary. However, it will be important to retain a retail function in town centres, particularly in the primary shopping area where retail uses are concentrated, to support a diverse range of main town centres uses and enhance the overall attractiveness of centres in the borough.

9.33  There are a number of diverse retail centres in the borough, with a unique character and quality of place. It is important that town centres contribute to a sense and quality of place that is appropriate and locally distinctive in character in line with the design principles set out in Policy RET 9 'Environmental improvements, public realm and design in town centres'. Town centres should also be accessible, inclusive and easily understood to all users.

9.34  To demonstrate the absence of market demand under Criterion 3(ii) of the policy, the council will normally expect that the premises have been properly marketed through a commercial agent for at least 12 months, at a market value that reflects the use, condition, quality and location of the premises, and that no purchaser or tenant has come forward.

9.35  Town centre boundaries and primary shopping areas are shown on the adopted policies map where the retail policies of the SADPD will apply. Neighbourhood plans may include their own retail and town centre policies, including the definition of town centre related boundaries and primary shopping areas, where relevant, in order to support the specific policy approach and objectives as stated and evidenced in the neighbourhood plan.

Related documents

Policy information


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