These are_ to say the least_ by decree


									retail FORUM
The Newsletter of the National Retail Planning Forum
                                                                                                                    Number 17
                                                                                                                     JULY 2009

Challenging times
NRPF Chairman Chris Brearley on the challenging economic and policy
context. Inside, a range of contributors offer assessments of the new
draft PPS4

        hese are, to say the least,           visit. At our conferences and workshops   officials from the DCLG, will be a really
        challenging times: for the            you will hear from excellent speakers     useful opportunity to discuss PPS4
        economy, for the financial system,    and have the opportunity to discuss       during its consultation period. But we are
for the retail and property industries, and   issues and meet colleagues.               keen to do better – never more so than
also for politics, for Parliament and for       Our next conference, in Birmingham      now – and we greatly welcome your
government. Not since the 1970s at least      on 17 July, which will be attended by     suggestions and input. I
has there been such uncertainty.
   Whether by coincidence or not, this          NRPF & LGA present...
same time is a challenging one for town
and country planning as well. There has
been great change in the system for             Retailing out of recession –
producing development plans, with the
move (by no means yet completed) to
Regional Spatial Strategies and Local
                                                the challenges ahead
Development Frameworks. There has               10 am - 4 pm, 17 July 2009
been significant change too in the
presentation and content of planning
                                                The Council House, Birmingham
policy, with the move to a smaller group        l Just what sort of shape is the retail sector now in? l Who are the likely
of broader Planning Policy Statements.          winners and losers? l How should city managers and investors respond?
So far as retail is concerned, we not only      l What new opportunities are emerging?
have the revisions to policy following the
                                                With speakers from the private sector and central and local government,
earlier reviews and consultations,
                                                this event aims to clarify the thinking behind the new consolidated
including the abolition of the need test
                                                government policy advice in PPS4 and, crucially, to set out the economic
and its replacement with the new impact
                                                and commercial context against which the new policy will be tested.
assessment, but also the grouping of
retail policies with other economic             Andrew Smith from Aberdeen Investors UK will consider the winners and
planning policies in the new PPS 4              losers in the present recession, and will present some of the likely
(Planning for Prosperous Economies),            scenarios that city and town managers will face in future. A second
currently out in draft for consultation.        session will deal specifically with the new PPS4, with speakers from
   There is a lot for practitioners to take     DCLG, before going on to look more specifically at different aspects of the
on board here, and much to discuss. It          new policy and its associated guidance. A panel comprising retailers,
highlights the importance of what we do.        investors, local government, city managers and BiTC will close the day,
NRPF is a non-partisan partnership              looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
between retail, developer, financial and
                                                Visit for more details, or to book your place now, contact:
governmental interests with a remit to
                                                George Nicholson, Secretary, NRPF, 6 Copperfield Street, London SE1 0EP
inform the issues and encourage debate.
This regular newsletter keeps you in
touch, and our website (at                      There is a small charge of £50 to cover the cost of the event. Cheques, with its well regarded          should be made out to The National Retail Planning Forum.
resource base, is always there for you to

                   Visit the NRPF website –
        Promoting private-public sector understanding of planning’s impact on retailing
PPS4 Debate
                                      In the following pages, nine contributors give their views on the new draft
                                      PPS4. Unless explicitly stated, these are personal views and do not
                                      necessarily represent those of their organisations...

                                     Concise and direct, but integration lacking
                                     Cliff Guy, Cardiff University

                                     T     he new draft PPS4: Planning for
                                           Prosperous Economies,1 out for
                                     consultation until 28 July 2009, stems
                                                                                       centres’, which reinstates advice on
                                                                                       supporting second-tier centres (which
                                                                                       had been watered down in the
                                                                                                                                      and/or ‘clear evidence’ of ‘significant
                                                                                                                                      adverse impacts’ as grounds for
                                                                                                                                      refusal, but also instructs local
                                     from a Government commitment to                   consultation revision of PPS6);                authorities to ‘consider proposals
                                     integrate economic and town centre            G   EC 5.1.5, which acknowledges that              favourably’ if their ‘wider economic,
                                     planning, following the report by                 development plans should consider              social and environmental benefits’
                                     Matthew Taylor MP into rural issues. It           what to do about ‘centres in decline’;         outweigh the adverse impacts.
                                     also reflects commitments to reduce the       G   EC6 on ‘planning for consumer
                                     length and complexity of planning                 choice’, a rewriting of the much-             In conclusion, I still find some of the
                                     guidance, leaving details to be provided          criticised advice in the consultation       advice unclear, particularly on ‘consumer
                                     in extra daughter documents.                      revision;                                   choice’ and support for local or
                                        My initial impression is of a lack of      G        .7
                                                                                       EC7 , which states that if                  independent traders. However, it is good
                                     integration between ‘economic’ and                development plan policies do not            to see a positive response to comments
                                     ‘town centres’ policies: these occupy             identify sites for retail expansion, then   made by consultees to last year’s
                                     separate parts of the document and are            they should set out ‘criteria-based         consultation revision, as well as a much
                                     to some extent contradictory. It is clear         policies’ for assessing planning            more concise and direct presentation of
                                     that the ‘town centres first’ policy takes        applications;                               policy. I
                                     precedence over any encouragement of          G   EC18, which lists the supporting
                                     ‘regeneration investment’ in off-centre           evidence that should accompany              Cliff Guy, Honorary Professor at the School of
                                     locations, but there is some recognition          planning applications for off-centre        City & Regional Planning, Cardiff University

                                     of the potential role of retail                   development;
                                     development in creating new                   G   EC20, a rewriting of the criteria for
                                                                                                                                   1 Consultation Paper on a New Planning Policy
                                     employment.                                       impact assessment, including a                Statement 4: Planning for Prosperous
                                        The guidance on ‘town centre uses’,            statement on carbon dioxide                   Economies. DCLG, 2009.
                                     particularly retail planning and                  emissions and climate change – this is
                                     development, has clearly benefited from           still very brief, but separate ‘good          planningandbuilding/consultationeconomicpps
                                                                                                                                   2 A ‘living draft’ of Planning for Town Centres:
                                     the consultation process on the draft             practice guidance’ is promised;2 and
                                                                                                                                     Good Practice Guide on Need, Impact and the
                                     revision of PPS6 which was issued last        G   EC21, a useful summary of                     Sequential Approach is available for comment at
                                     year (see Retail Forum issue 16). Much            ‘consideration of planning applications’
                                     paper has been saved through the                  which prioritises the sequential test         towncentresgoodpracticeguide.xml
                                     pruning of homilies and waffle: the draft’s
                                     length is about 14½ pages compared
                                     with 23 in PPS6 (ignoring introductory
                                     material and annexes).                        Questions and uncertainty
                                        The major omission from the original       Ruairidh Jackson, The Co-operative Group
                                     PPS6 is, as expected, the requirement to
                                     assess the quantitative need for off-             he draft PPS is an encouraging              development control tool? There is
                                     centre retail proposals. Otherwise there      T   start, but many businesses and              more recognition of the role played
Retail Forum : The NRPF Newsletter

                                     appear to be no significant changes in        individuals will still have a lot to say        by incumbent retailers and
                                     policy. There is no mention of any            during the consultation period. The             independent shops; but will it deliver
                                     ‘competition test’ for supermarkets,          new style, with more specific policies          a more level playing field? The draft
                                     following Tesco’s successful appeal           and a clear attempt to provide more             policies do provide a clearer
                                     against the Competition Commission’s          definition to the issues, is welcomed;          framework; but will they create a
                                     proposal. However, there is substantial       but while it attempts to provide the            more predictable set of outcomes?
                                     rewriting of detailed guidance, mainly        answers there will always be                    Only time will tell, but whatever side
                                     amounting to clarification rather than        uncertainty.                                    people may find themselves on, it is
                                     new policy. This includes:                      There is better advice for plan-              essential to get engaged and join the
                                     G Policy EC1 – a useful checklist of          makers; but will it lead to more of a           debate. I
                                         evidence that should be assembled to      plan-led system for retail, rather than         Ruairidh Jackson, Head of Planning and
                                         inform development plan policies;         the historic use of PPS6 as a                   Property Strategy, The Co-operative Group
                                     G EC3 on ‘regional planning for town
The new impact test and sustainability
Jonathan Baldock, Consultant

T    he plan-making policies of the draft
     PPS4 are very similar to the
requirements of PPS6. The main policy
                                             the proposal ‘is likely to lead to
                                             significant adverse impacts in terms of
                                             mitigation of or adaptation to climate
                                                                                          out-of-centre retail complexes by stealth,
                                                                                          rather than through the development
                                                                                          plan process.
change is the new impact test for            change...’.                                     The need test is not dead for planning
potential developments. This sets out           These will be tough tests for car-        applications, because trade diversion is
eight ‘key impacts’ and (if the key          dependent out-of-centre retail               one of the key impacts to be assessed.
impacts are not significantly adverse)       developments to pass. If rigorously          This requires forecasting of available
four ‘wider impacts’ which must be           applied, they may well preclude single       expenditure and its capture by existing
assessed when local planning authorities     free-standing superstores and store          stores as the first steps in the process –
allocate sites for development and when      extensions and reduce out-of-centre          in other words, forecasting capacity (or
planning applications are submitted. The     development. However, expect                 need). Before trade diversion can be
most important of the key impacts are        developers to seek opportunities to          assessed, it is also necessary to know
the impacts on sustainability – i.e.         group new out-of-centre stores with          how well the existing stores are trading –
mitigation of climate change – and the       existing ones and claim linked trips and     again, an element of need forecasting. It
impact on accessibility by a choice of       mileage reductions as a result. Clearly,     is therefore unlikely that there will be any
means of transport, on car mileage and       traffic engineers will be much in demand     change in the way that quantitative retail
carbon dioxide emissions, and on linked      for assessments which demonstrate            impact assessments are carried out as a
trips with existing centres. These are the   compliance with these tests! If local        result of the proposed new policies. I
most important because they are              authorities are not robust in judging such
specifically highlighted as a reason why     planning applications, the result could be   Jonathan Baldock, Town Centres & Retail
planning permission should be refused, if    the establishment of increasingly large      Planning Consultant

Scope for (mis)interpretation
Stephen Wright, John Lewis Partnership

J   ohn Lewis Partnership broadly
    welcomes the proposals in the draft
PPS, albeit with a note of caution. The
                                                                                          the planning process, is going to be
                                                                                          crucial. This will require training and
                                                                                          resourcing, as well as a firm and
move towards a more holistic analysis of                                                  continued commitment to town centre
the positive and negative impacts of a                                                    vitality and viability.
proposal is a welcome development                                                            The proposals would do away with the
which should enable better consideration                                                  unintended consequences of the need
of the benefits and disadvantages of a                                                    test, but the hearings of the CLG Select
development than the outgoing, and                                                        Committee Inquiry into PPS6: Town
much narrower, need and impact tests of                                                   Centres in May made it clear that some
PPS6.                                                                                     remain to be convinced that scrapping
   However, the shift from quantitative                                                   the need test is appropriate. We maintain
tests to qualitative evaluations, together                                                that it is, provided that the replacement
with the wording of the draft policies,                                                   is sufficiently robust to give equal if not
means that there will be some scope for                                                   greater support to town centres.
interpretation (and, potentially,                                                            We anticipate the proposed tests will
misinterpretation) of the new tests. The                                                  result in substantial work for consultants
text of the policies can be interpreted to   to be applied in such a way as to place      and lawyers, as lengthy impact
maintain the protection and support          short-term economic recovery ahead of        assessments are prepared and the
given to town centres, but the statement     medium-term and long-term sustainable        meaning of terms such as ‘significant
by the then Housing and Planning             growth and place-making.                     adverse impacts’ is argued with planning
Minister, Margaret Beckett, in launching        Town centres have a fundamental role      officers, at planning inquiries and through
the document points towards a different      to play in social cohesion, economic and     the Courts. This would be an unwelcome
interpretation. The Minister noted that      environmental well-being, and place-         development, given the Government’s
the new policies ‘provide the flexibility    making. We hope that the new proposals       devolutionary aims and the ongoing
needed to tackle the current economic        will be clarified to ensure that these key   push for a more streamlined planning
uncertainty and exploit the opportunities    aims are not undermined. In any event,       system. I
available...’. There is scope, within the    the way in which the new policies are        Stephen Wright, Principal Lawyer (Planning),
wording of the policies, for the new tests   interpreted by local authorities, through    John Lewis Partnership

                                                                                                                              July 2009
PPS4 Debate
                                     The importance of the evidence base
                                     Miles Davis, University College London

                                     T     he new consultation draft guidance
                                           certainly looks a very different beast
                                     from last year’s PPS4 and PPS6
                                                                                       In reality the current evidence base
                                                                                    varies greatly between local authorities,
                                                                                    and comparisons over time and between
                                                                                                                                 policy. The underlying technology is
                                                                                                                                 capable of much more, and the NRPF
                                                                                                                                 Research Group is investigating
                                     consultation drafts, although supposedly       places are usually difficult. Although the   alternative ways of using it with Valuation
                                     only the format and emphasis have              health check indicators first appeared in    Office floorspace data – another cheap
                                     changed. In particular, the importance of      the mid-1990s, uptake has been slow.         but under-used data source.
                                     the evidence base has been literally           Studies1,2 have highlighted the lack of         Overall, while the prominence given to
                                     brought to the fore. The first policy, EC1,    comprehensive and consistent data and        the evidence base in the new draft PPS4
                                     sets out the requirements for a robust         the understandable tendency of               is a marked and welcome change, the
                                     evidence base for positive planning,           resource-stretched local authorities to      actual information requirements have not
                                     giving the subject much more                   use the indicators most easily, quickly or   fundamentally altered. But this new
                                     prominence that the previous draft PPS4        cheaply measured, rather than those          emphasis does reinforce the need to
                                     and, particularly, PPS6.                       most relevant. Meanwhile the list of         bring the current evidence base up to
                                        This new emphasis on a sound                indicators continues to grow.                scratch. With the tools already in place,
                                     evidence base is no surprise given the            Ironically the DCLG’s own Town Centre     the timely provision of basic data by the
                                     new onus on planning authorities to plan       Statistics (available at                     DCLG, such as floorspace totals for each
                                     proactively and allocate sites for retail should        centre and annual changes, seems a
                                     during the plan-making process, first          already provide free annual floorspace,      good place to start. I
                                     seen in the PPS6 consultation draft. The       employment and rateable value data on a
                                                                                                                                 Miles Davis, Researcher, Centre for Advanced
                                     new, more sophisticated impact test            consistent, comprehensive and
                                                                                                                                 Spatial Analysis, UCL
                                     requires consideration of a wide range of      comparable basis for town centres
                                     impacts, and it is also suggested that         across England and Wales, but                Notes
                                     impacts of particular local importance can     awareness of these is low and recent         1 J. Cox, M. Thurstain-Goodwin, and C. Tomalin:
                                                                                                                                   Town Centre Vitality & Viability: A Review of
                                     be specified. The concept of hierarchies       updates have been sporadic as the
                                                                                                                                   the Health Check Methodology. NRPF 2000 ,
                                     and networks of centres is highlighted, as     Department’s own scarce resources            2 Policy Evaluation of the Effectiveness of PPG6.
                                     is the need to assess potential for growth     have been focused elsewhere – making           CB Hillier Parker and Cardiff University, for the
                                     across them and to manage changes. At          it hard to gauge the success of current        ODPM, 2004
                                     the decision-making stage, for proposals
                                     requiring an impact assessment planning
                                     authorities are recommended to agree
                                     the level and type of information to be
                                                                                     Social exclusion objectives
                                     submitted beforehand.                           Bill Boler, Under-served Markets Project
                                        The new draft PPS provides detail on
                                     evidence base preparation, particularly
                                     needs assessment. The accompanying
                                     Good Practice Guide highlights the
                                                                                     W      here relevant, the USM (Under-
                                                                                            served Markets) Project has
                                                                                     sought to engage in dialogue over
                                                                                                                                 promote town centres first, we also
                                                                                                                                 welcome the proposed impact test’s
                                                                                                                                 reference to the specific needs of
                                     importance of monitoring the performance        public policy in order to promote its       deprived areas and the link between
                                     of centres over time and of being able to       goals – specifically recognition of the     retail and wider regeneration and
                                     make comparisons with other centres.            importance of retail-led regeneration       social exclusion objectives.
                                     The town centre vitality and viability          and the need for investment in                Overall, we are especially pleased:
                                     healthcheck indicators within the draft         deprived areas as a catalyst for            the revised policy document makes
                                     PPS are recommended as a good                   regeneration.                               22(!) references to ‘deprived areas’,
                                     starting point.                                   The USM Project welcomes several          reflected in the objectives, planning
                                        The proposed changes are not intended        positive changes in the new draft           approach and impact test sections.
Retail Forum : The NRPF Newsletter

                                     to impose any net additional costs on the       PPS and accompanying Good                   This compares with just two
                                     private or public sectors, as theoretically     Practice Guide – particularly the           references a few years ago, in the old
                                     all the impacts to be assessed should           continued promotion of town                 PPG6. In addition, the new impact
                                     have been considered under the existing         centres and the plan-led approach,          test – following the sequential test –
                                     regime. However, consultation responses         as well as the acknowledgement of           requires the consideration of ‘wider
                                     for the draft PPS6 revision have revealed       social exclusion and deprivation                     ,
                                                                                                                                 impacts’ and three of the four wider
                                     widespread concerns about the resource          issues and the role that the retail         impact issues have been key elements
                                     and data costs of collecting suitably           sector can play in alleviating them         of our project work (deprived areas,
                                     robust evidence and market information.         through regeneration projects. While        employment, and regeneration). I
                                     It is suggested that some of this               recognising that the primary purpose
                                     information will come from the proposed         of the draft PPS is to guide planning       Bill Boler, Director, Investment & Physical
                                     new Local Economic Assessments, and             policy, and in terms of retail policy to    Regeneration, Business in the Community
                                     joint working is also encouraged.
Competition, vitality and vibrancy
Simon Birnbaum, Tesco Stores Limited

T    he aim of draft PPS4 is ‘to make
     planning policies clearer, more
concise, more businesslike and easier to
                                              creation and economic regeneration
                                              should be part of the key impacts as
                                              opposed to being cited as ‘wider
                                                                                                In a weak economic climate
                                                                                             developers need consistency and
                                                                                             efficiency in decision-making – it is
use’. The draft brings together all the       impacts’. Such changes would reflect the       important to reduce risk levels and
Government’s key planning policies            current economic challenges and assist in      barriers to investment and regeneration.
relating to the economy. The long             meeting the Government’s objective of          The draft PPS contains clear principles,
awaited Good Practice Guide on need,          achieving sustainable economic growth.         but the accompanying Good Practice
impact and the sequential approach has           The draft PPS recognises that the           Guide is detailed and prescriptive and,
been published as a ‘living draft’ to         proposed impact assessment must be             while seen as a pragmatic document,
support the implementation of town            applied in a proportionate way in              would benefit from being streamlined in
centre policies set out in the draft PPS.     accordance with the scale of                   its final form. I
   Tesco has always supported the             development proposed.
                                                                                             Simon Birnbaum, Strategic Town Planning
principle of town centre first and is            Local planning authorities can help
                                                                                             Manager, Tesco Stores Limited
pleased to see this maintained. Tesco         create the right conditions for diversity to
also welcomes the fact that reference is      flourish. It is important that they do so in   Note
made to looking at the mix and diversity      a way which encourages competition,            1 Supplement to PPS1 – whereby applicants
                                                                                               should consider how well their development
of uses to ensure vibrant town centres –      vitality and vibrancy. The character of a
                                                                                               proposals contribute to the Government’s
the identity of the proposed operator has     proposed development and the type and            ambition of a low-carbon economy and how
never been a relevant consideration in        range of goods to be sold are correct            well adapted they are for the expected effects
the UK planning system, and this              matters to be taken into account.                of climate change
principle is retained in the draft PPS.
   The Government’s objectives to
achieve growth in the economy and
productivity and to create prosperous
                                               More work to be done
communities are welcomed. However,             Phil Morris, Norfolk County Council
while ‘town centre uses’ are referred to
as ‘economic development’ it is apparent
when comparing draft Policy EC12 with
draft Policy EC20 that a more stringent
                                               T     he new draft PPS has been more
                                                     clearly formatted as ‘policies’.
                                               However, a cursory reading suggests
                                                                                                The ‘need test’ had the advantage of
                                                                                             being relatively simple and has been
                                                                                             sufficient to assess some applications
impact assessment is to be applied             that more work needs to be done to            without the need for further retail
towards retail development than to             clarify those elements that are genuine       impact assessment. An average,
traditional employment uses such as            national policy (and so do not need to be     numerate local authority planner, taught
industry and warehousing.                      repeated at the local level) and those        some of the tricks of the trade, could
   The proposed removal of the need test       that are guidance. The PPS is also a bit      understand it and have some chance of
for planning applications is welcomed.         muddled on what policies are required at      judging an application. More
Need is already covered by impact on           the different levels of Local Development     importantly, all LDFs should be
the vitality and viability and scale tests,    Frameworks (LDFs) – a Core Strategy           supported by retail studies, so a local
and together with the sequential               does not include a Proposals Map, so          authority will already have a broad
assessment and accessibility criteria of       the PPS is wrong to require a Core            understanding of the capacity for new
previous versions of PPG6 /PPS6 they           Strategy to define primary frontages.         floorspace in each category. Now, lack
are designed to protect town centres.             As with the last draft of PPS6, the        of capacity cannot be used to filter out
   The proposed impact assessment for          ‘need’ test has been scrapped for             a proportion of applications. Retail
town centre uses not in accordance with        applications (it is still required for        impact assessments add a significant
the development plan is a step in the          forward planning to inform new                additional level of complexity. I doubt
right direction of balancing the positive      allocations in LDFs). It has never been       that there will be many, if any, local
and negative aspects of a proposed             entirely clear why this approach has          authorities with the expertise to judge
development.                                   been dropped. It is not additional work       the kind of assessments that will be
   The order of the considerations to be       as it is the first stage of a retail impact   required. So if a local authority wishes
taken into account under the proposed          assessment. Of course, needs testing          to properly understand the impact of a
impact assessment should be revised. The       still exists for other aspects of planning.   retail application, then independent
draft places the effect on carbon dioxide      If a local authority can demonstrate an       consultants will need to be employed
emissions and climate change first in the      adequate supply of housing to cater for       to advise on the applicant’s assessment
‘key impacts’ to be assessed. This is a        ‘need’, then non-conforming                   – every time. Do local authorities have
requirement as opposed to an impact.1          applications can legitimately be              the budgets for this? I
Impact on the vitality and viability of the    refused. Clearly an abundance of shops        Phil Morris, Principal Planner, Norfolk County
town centre is seventh on the list of ‘key     is more important than houses!                Council
impacts’, while matters such as job
                                                                                                                                   July 2009
PPS4 Debate
                                     Evidence base resources
                                     Mike Haines, LGA and Teignbridge District Council

                                     I am sure we all welcome the move
                                       towards more streamlined and
                                     simplified national policy guidance, and
                                                                                   MP I am well aware of the inter-
                                                                                   relationship between economies in rural
                                                                                   and urban areas in my own sub-region,
                                                                                                                               or impose additional burdens’; but should
                                                                                                                               we not make every effort to minimise
                                                                                                                               the workload rather than just not
                                     support the principle that the planning       and would have wished for more              increase it? I remain concerned about
                                     system should positively support              emphasis on sub-regional planning in the    how resource-intensive putting the
                                     sustainable economic development.             document.                                   evidence base together might be. I
                                        As a member of a rural local authority I     Annex B provides a very useful
                                     am pleased to see recognition of the          comparison, and I note that it seeks to     Cllr Mike Haines, Deputy Chair, LGA Environment
                                     importance of the rural economy,              demonstrate ‘the proposal will not          Board, and Planning Portfolio Holder, Teignbridge
                                     following the review by Matthew Taylor        increase the overall costs of assessments   District Council

                                     Knowledge Base update
                                             he update to the NRPF Knowledge       consumers use and perceive town             challenge here for those seeking to
                                             Base listing material from 2008 is    centres has highlighted critical            manage and promote town centres.
                                             now available at        considerations in thinking about what       Whatever the realities of the policy
                                     PDF/NRPF_Biblio_2009.pdf.                     policies and management structures can      which will emerge from current
                                        Users should note that throughout the      be devised to ensure that town centres      processes in the DCLG, there is an
                                     reference listing all academic papers         can be more successful. Wider urban         opportunity to change the image of the
                                     have e-mail contacts. Users should            literatures are seeking to move from        role and function of town centres in
                                     contact the authors to obtain papers as       thinking in terms of health metaphors for   communities and regions to something
                                     authors almost always have pre-               town centres to more positive ways of       more dynamic in economic and social
                                     publication PDF files which they would        thinking about urban places. There is a     terms. I
                                     be willing to release. The web links have
                                     been checked and updated for 2009. The
                                     main knowledge base now covers the
                                     last ten years, and can be searched using
                                                                                    Retail planning definitions –
                                     the search function in Adobe Acrobat. It
                                     is available at
                                                                                    the last word?
                                        The literature for 2008 includes a range           he NRPF’s definitions for retail    were unable to recommend a
                                     of academic, policy and practitioner                  planning have now been              definition of net sales area, but put
                                     material, structured into three main                  included in Appendix A of           forward one which could apply to all
                                     sections: competition and planning;            Planning for Town Centres: Good            shops and stores, including foodstores,
                                     PPS6; and town centres.                        Practice Guide on Need, Impact and         and an alternative which could apply
                                        The commentary on the literature            the Sequential Approach, published in      to foodstores only. DCLG has asked for
                                     highlights the contribution of research        April by GVA Grimley on behalf of the      views on these alternatives for
                                     work and the challenges it makes to            DCLG as a ‘living draft’ for               foodstores as part of consultation on
                                     policy. For example, the literature on         consultation.The definitions are those     the draft Good Practice Guide.
                                     competition challenges the limited             recommended by the NRPF – except             So now it’s nearly all over? Well, not
Retail Forum : The NRPF Newsletter

                                     definition of the market used by the                                       .
                                                                                    for that of ‘net sales area’ When we       quite. Once the final version of the
                                     Competition Commission. It explores            consulted interested parties on the        Guide is published by DCLG alongside
                                     different ways in which new market             final draft, all the other definitions     the new PPS4, the NRPF will probably
                                     entry and format innovation can take           were relatively uncontentious; but ‘net    need to draw the attention of
                                     place. Similarly, while town centres           sales area’ aroused some strongly held     interested parties to the final new
                                     remain at the centre of policy, planning       views. Broadly speaking, our draft         definitions and advise on their
                                     policy seems primarily concerned with          definition was supported by the public     application. But the acceptance of
                                     directing development to town centres          sector, while most of the major food       national definitions marks a big step
                                     rather than with considering how this will     retailers supported an alternative put     towards accuracy and consistency of
                                     deliver successful town centres. Current       forward by the Competition                 analysis for retail planning. I
                                     policy is insufficient to ensure               Commission in the recent Groceries         Jonathan Baldock
                                     prosperous and successful town                 Market Investigation. As a result, we      Town Centres & Retail Planning Consultant
                                     centres/places. Research on how
A                                                   Mixed use and
          chieving and encouraging ‘mixed-
          use’ development has been driven
          by the planning system to counter a
preponderance of single-use schemes that

                                                    retail content
came forward in the 1980/90s. Planners and
urban designers have never been happy
with single dominant land uses, albeit the
planning system has been responsible for
prescribing the segregation of uses by
inflexible land use zoning through the              ‘Mixed use’ as a concept has lost its original
development plan system. By contrast,               purpose, with dangers for the proper planning
developers and investors preferred the
simplicity and certainty of single-use building
                                                    of retail development, says Alan Taylor
developments, arguing that a ‘mix’ could            frontages in bland residential and office        Realities – was quite prophetic about the
be achieved across a wider area rather than         blocks. Housing practitioners use the term       then clamour to promote ‘mixed-use’
by being prescriptive about achieving the           ‘mixed use’ to describe a desire to achieve      developments: ‘Schemes which offer few,
‘mix’ within a building or a small land area.       not a mix of land uses but a mix of tenures.     if any, of the benefits associated with
   There has been a desire to overcome the             The original purpose of promoting ‘mixed      traditional mixed use areas are,
separation of uses that have said to                use’ as a means of maximising the                nevertheless, described as mixed-use
characterise the modern English city,               development potential of town centre sites       developments. This debases the concept
whose urban form had begun to replicate             has been grasped by other practitioners to       and risks reducing support for the idea. The
the dispersal and sprawl of American urban          promote their particular interests, often in     term is used as a marketing slogan by
development rather than the complexity of           locations other than just town centres. The      some people and the concept is seen as a
the European ‘compact city’. In his 1995            initial resistance from the development          panacea by others. A lack of clarity
press release marking the launch of a draft         community to ‘mixed use’ within buildings        surrounds much of the debate about
of PPG6, John Gummer indicated central              has largely been overcome – although             mixed-use developments.’
government’s desire to promote ‘mixed use’          some would say that street level retail uses        ‘Mixed use’ is now synonymous with
within town centres, and that message is            are provided to meet requests from council       ‘sustainable development’ and has become
still embedded in the current PPS6 (in para.        planning authorities rather than commercial      a label equivalent of the CE label on
2.20). The delivery of ‘mixed use’ schemes          need. ‘Mixed use’ has become the norm,           European consumer goods: nobody knows
within town centres has become the                  not the exception.                               what it really means, but the development
expected norm rather than the exception in             ‘Mixed-use’ schemes now cover every           would be in some way devalued if the label
the 1980/90s: ‘The Government is                    spectrum and scale of development from           was not applied.
concerned to ensure that efficient use              the £1 billion Olympic village or new eco-          What has been lost in the universal use
should be made of land within centres and           town scale at one extreme, down to a single      of the ‘mixed use’ label on any sizeable
elsewhere. Local planning authorities               block of flats with a ground-floor coffee shop   development is that the original idea was
should formulate planning policies which            at the other – and every graduation of size      proposed as a clear town centre focused
encourage well-designed, and, where                 in between. The ‘mix’ constituent parts can      concept. The danger is that the ‘mixed use’
appropriate, higher-density, multi-storey           range from hypermarkets and sub-regional         format has spread beyond town and city
development within and around existing              shopping down to a ‘corner shop’ scale           centres and has dragged the retailing
centres, including the promotion of mixed-          retail unit embedded in a single residential     component of the ‘mix’ with it. Retailing in
use development and mixed-use areas.’               tower. Often the constituent parts are not       all its guises (A1, A2, A3, A4 or A5) is often
   In terms of delivering sustainable               obvious, not always separately identified or     the only use that will deliver a ‘mix’ beyond
development, of making best use of scarce           listed, and the shorthand all-embracing          housing, flats or student accommodation.
town and city centre land, of reinforcing           ‘mixed-use’ label is used instead. The term      The clamour to ensure that there is a ‘mix’
the multiplier effect of grouping together a        obscures and glosses over the actual             further fuels the pressure to add retailing
complementary mix of town centre uses,              constituent parts of the ‘mix’.                  to sites which are not town or city centre
and of designing active and vibrant uses at                                                          locations. New retailing is often provided
street level, delivering ‘mixed-use’ high-          The debasement of ‘mixed use’                    where there is no commercial requirement
density development within town and city               The term ‘mixed use’ has become a             for it within inner city communities, where
centres seems to tick all the right boxes.          common label, applied to almost every            the old forms of retailing are often
Town centres were seen as being the                 project reported in the development press.       struggling to survive and prosper.
appropriate and proper location for true            No longer is it possible to understand from         Lost in this ambiguity is any clarity of the
‘mixed-use’ schemes, and inevitably retail          the label ‘mixed use’ what that                  real role, need and purpose of one of the
in its various forms was usually a                  development content and format might be.         key constituents of ‘mixed use’: the retail
constituent part of that ‘mix’, along with          The component parts and uses are not             component. Lost in that ambiguity is the
other commercial uses.                              clearly described, and the label rarely paints   original intention to deliver ‘mixed use’ as a
   However, ‘mixed use’ has gained a much           an accurate or meaningful description of         key constituent of achieving active and
wider currency, proving attractive to a variety     the scheme. ‘Mixed use’ as a concept has         vibrant town centres. ‘Mixed use’ has
of practitioners with vastly different priorities   lost its original purpose, and its use in        become a term without any real meaning,
and interest areas. Urban designers have            describing virtually any development has         and lost in that ‘mix’ is the proper planning
recognised the positive aspect of ‘mixed            led to it being used with very little            of retail development. I
use’ (bars, restaurants and retail) in              precision. That ambiguity has real dangers.
                                                                                                     Alan Taylor was formerly Senior Planner in the
providing interest and activity at street level        A paper produced by the RICS in 1996 –        Planning & Economic Division, City Development
in what otherwise would be lifeless street          Mixed Use Development: Concept and               Department, Leeds City Council.

                                                                                                                                         July 2009
                                     Retail markets in the spotlight
                                              wo events in coming months will                                                      while others see DCLG as the natural
                                              turn the spotlight on traditional                                                    home, something the Minister concurred
                                              retail markets. Both will give a                                                     with. The Committee was keen to identify
                                     welcome airing to a corner of the retail                                                      obstacles within both central government
                                     industry sometimes not viewed by                                                              and local government to the growth in
                                     retailers, developers, planners and policy-                                                   retail markets, and also asked about the
                                     makers as part of the same family as high                                                     factors underpinning the success of
                                     street shops, shopping centres, and other                                                     markets both in the UK and Europe. The
                                     outlets. Considering their history and the                                                    Committee’s report will be eagerly
                                     sheer number of markets that exist in                                                         anticipated by an industry keen to shed
                                     some form in practically every town or          evidence pointed out (along with that         its Cinderella image. The complete set of
                                     city in the UK, this is an odd situation.       from others, such as NABMA), part of          oral hearings evidence is available on the
                                        First, the CLG Select Committee will         the problem with any analysis of the          NRPF website (at
                                     publish the report of its inquiry into the      sector is the lack of regular and reliable    markets_oral_evidence.pdf).
                                     state of the traditional retail markets         data. In fact, there has only ever been          The second event is an international
                                     sector in the UK. The Committee has             one national survey, undertaken by            conference to be held at London’s
                                     recently finished taking evidence to the        NABMA itself in 2005, which revealed a        Barbican Centre on 26 June. Staged by
                                     inquiry, with sessions having taken place       mixed picture across the country. The         WUWM, the conference programme
                                     in London, Leicester and elsewhere,             survey showed that some markets were          includes a keynote paper on the retail
                                     accompanied by visits to a range of street      growing – such as farmers’ markets and        markets industry in the UK from CLG
                                     and indoor markets. The Committee               car boot sales, along with newer              Committee advisor Professor Alan
                                     intends to make recommendations on              specialist markets such as Borough            Hallsworth, as well as sessions that will
                                     the sector’s future direction and needs.        Market in London – while others were          include Robin Butler, Development
                                        The NRPF gave evidence to the inquiry,       showing a small decline in the number of      Director from Lend Lease, one of the
                                     along with the President of the World           traders and customers.                        partners with Grosvenor in the Preston
                                     Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM)                  The lack of data was something the CLG     Markets project. Presentations from
                                     on 20 April, having sent in evidence            Committee discussed, along with the need      Hamburg, Burgos in Spain and from
                                     beforehand (see the NRPF website at             for a ‘champion’ in government for markets    France and Holland will look at examples
                            The DCLG Minister               – about which views differ in the industry.   of successful new market initiatives.
                                     responsible – Iain Wright MP – also             Some favour a foothold in BERR as the         Information on the event can be found at
                                     attended the session. As the NRPF               department responsible for enterprise,

                                     Reinvigorating the high street
                                            ondon First has set up a London          London Plan. It is also hoped it will help      The work currently being undertaken
                                            Retail Commission to examine how         London boroughs in developing initiatives     by DTZ for DCLG on the planning tools
                                            to retain and strengthen London’s        and policy.                                   needed to promote retail diversity and
                                     retail diversity and to explore ways of            The process will involve a series of       the BRC’s strategy report on the high
                                     supporting the capital’s town centres.          steering group meetings, roundtable           street will also be fed into the process.
                                     Jeremy Newsum, Chief Executive of               discussions, seminars, and other meetings.    The NRPF’s report on the role of
                                     Grosvenor Estates, has agreed to chair the      A range of issues have been identified,       secondary shopping is another important
                                     Commission, which includes a mixture of         from lease structures, rating and             source. Further information on the work
                                     developers, retailers, investors, property      planning policy, to the role of markets       of the Commission can be obtained from
                                     owners, agents, and retail organisations.       and transport. A number of case studies       Kate Vandermeer at London First – see
                                        In part set up to tackle the effects of      will be used to highlight good practice
Retail Forum : The NRPF Newsletter

                                     the recession, the Commission is a              both from the UK and abroad, and a            uk-competitive/planning--
                                     response to the challenges facing all           series of research topics have also been      development/london-retail-
                                     retailers, from reduced consumer                identified to feed into the discussions.      commission/. I
                                     expenditure to other factors such as
                                     growing use of the internet, increased           The National Retail Planning Forum. Limited by guarantee. Registered in England
                                     competition from new large-scale                 and Wales under No. 3071181. Registered Charity No. 1059869.
                                     shopping centres, and problems faced by          NRPF Board Members: BCSC, The Co-operative Group, Grosvenor, John Lewis
                                     local shops. It is felt that action is needed    Partnership, Lend Lease, Local Government Association, NABMA, Planning Officers
                                     now to ensure the long-term health and           Society, Tesco Stores, Westfield
                                     vitality of London’s retail centres. The         For further information on the Forum and its activities, please contact
                                     Commission is to meet between June                                                                         .
                                                                                      George Nicholson, 6 Copperfield Street, London SE1 0EP Tel./Fax: 020-7633 0903.
                                     and September this year, with a view to          E-mail: Website: Retail Forum is
                                     making an input into the review of the           published with support from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

                                     Issue 18 of Retail Forum will be published in autumn 2009                                                                   July 2009

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