Government Policy Guidance
5.1 The main government policy guidance on new retail developments is set out in Planning Policy Statement 6: ‘Planning for Town Centres’ (March 2005). In relation to retail proposals the guidance sets out the government’s objectives to sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of town centres, to maintain an efficient, competitive and innovative retail sector and to ensure that such services and facilities are available and have easy access by a choice of means of transport.
5.2 The sequential approach to retail development locations is emphasised, with town centres the preferred location for developments that attract many trips. Policies should enable town, district and local centres to meet the needs of residents, and safeguard and strengthen existing local centres, which offer a range of everyday community, shopping and employment opportunities.
Replacement Structure Plan
5.3 The RSP identifies a strategic hierarchy of shopping centres, comprising Sub-Regional Town Centres, Principle Town Centres (including Brentwood Town Centre), Smaller Town Centres, District Centres and Local Centres. Policy TCR1 of the RSP advises that development must be appropriate to the function, size and character of the centre concerned and reinforces this in Policy TCR2 by advocating a sequential approach to the location of retail and other town centre developments, working down from the higher order centres to the smallest local centre.
Brentwood Community Plan
5.4 The Community Plan’s strategic objectives that are relevant to the Replacement Local Plan Shopping policies are set out under the heading “Economic Development and the Local Economy” and includes:
“To facilitate the maintenance of a sound economic base for the Brentwood Borough, by:
- Providing where possible for the needs of existing local businesses in order for them to remain viable and competitive
- Facilitating the creation of new businesses
- Facilitating the development of existing and new businesses”
THE AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE PLAN’S SHOPPING POLICIES
To improve shopping provision in the Borough
- To maintain and enhance the viability and vitality of existing shopping areas within the Borough
- To facilitate the provision and maintenance of, where possible, a range, quality and amount of retail floor space to satisfy the needs of the local catchment area
- To ensure that non-retail uses do not detract from the vitality and viability of the shopping areas
- To provide a safer and more attractive environment for the users of shopping areas
- To encourage access to and within the shopping areas by alternative modes of transport to the private car
- To seek to achieve and retain adequate neighbourhood shopping facilities
5.5 There is a wide range of shopping facilities within the Borough, encompassing Brentwood Town Centre itself, the main shopping area serving a catchment population of approximately 70,000; the important local centres of Hutton Road, Shenfield, Ingatestone High Street and the Warley Hill Area around Brentwood Station; and the many smaller parades and individual shops serving the local residential areas and villages. Each has an important role to play in providing essential local services for residents of the Borough.
5.6 However, retailing has an important function not only in providing local services and facilities for residents, but in generating income and other economic benefits, and offering further sources of local employment opportunities.
5.7 Retail patterns have changed significantly in recent years and shoppers' expectations of their shopping environment have increased, with demands for improved shopping facilities and new types of shopping e.g. food superstores and retail warehouse, easy access and car parking in close proximity. There is also an increasing prevalence for mixed-use trips, with leisure playing a greater part in shopping visits to main shopping areas.
5.8 Brentwood is surrounded by four major sub-regional centres, within a 20-minute drive time, i.e. Romford, Basildon and Chelmsford and the new Lakeside Centre in Thurrock. Accessibility is also relatively easy to other shopping facilities in Central London and the most recent development at Bluewater in Kent. Such centres are able to offer a greater range, choice and quality of shopping to that in Brentwood. The success and continued viability of the existing shopping facilities within the Borough is dependent in the long-term on the Borough being able to withstand competition from these surrounding centres and minimise the outflow of expenditure. As these nearby centres continue to expand and improve the range of shops and other facilities offered, so shopping facilities within the Borough must continue to develop in ways that will maintain their attraction and encourage Brentwood residents to choose to shop within the Borough.
5.9 The Council is committed, therefore, to ensuring that current shopping opportunities in Brentwood are maintained and enhanced.
ADDITIONAL SHOPPING PROVISION
New Major Retail Development
5.10 In line with national and strategic policies the Plan will continue to support the viability and vitality of existing shopping centres within the Borough, and thus policies will seek to enhance existing shopping centres by directing new retail provision to these areas and by looking to achieve new investment and general improvements in the shopping environment. The larger shopping centres (Brentwood Town Centre, Shenfield Shopping Centre, The Brentwood Station Area and Ingatestone High Street) are specifically identified for shopping purposes on the Proposals Map. Smaller local shopping centres and individual shops are not so allocated, but are over-washed with the residential notation. In order to implement a sequential approach to the location of new retail provision and reflect the hierarchy of centres, any new major retail provision will only be permitted within those areas allocated for shopping purposes or as may be allowed in any future consideration of uses for the William Hunter Way Car Park in Brentwood Town Centre (see Policy TC10). Other retail development will be permitted provided it satisfies the sequential test set out in PPG6 and the proposal is of a size that is appropriate to the scale and character of the centre or area within which it is to be located.
5.11 Furthermore, new retail development will need to show that the associated travel demand can be satisfactorily accommodated by the transport network, which it is of a high standard of design and does not give rise to any detrimental impact on the amenities of the surrounding area. Proposals will also need to show how travel by more sustainable forms of transport than the private car is to be encouraged and facilitated.
5.12 For the above reasons, including the need to protect the viability and vitality of all existing shopping centres, and due to the limited provision made for new employment land, retail development will not be permitted within areas allocated or used for employment purposes. Large new stores will, therefore, only be allowed in areas allocated for shopping and where no adverse impact will result on existing centres, the transport network, local environment, etc.
MAJOR RETAIL DEVELOPMENT* WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WITHIN BRENTWOOD TOWN CENTRE AND THE BOROUGHS OTHER DISTRICT CENTRES WHERE IT IS WITHIN AN AREA ALLOCATED FOR SHOPPING PURPOSES OR WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF POLICY TC10. OTHER RETAIL DEVELOPMENT WILL BE PERMITTED IF IT IS OF A SIZE APPROPRIATE TO THE SCALE AND CHARACTER OF THE CENTRE OR AREA IN WHICH IT IS TO BE LOCATED AND SATISFIES THE SEQUENTIAL APPROACH IN PPG6. ALL RETAIL PROPOSALS SHOULD SATISFY THE FOLLOWING:
i) THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT HAVE AN UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON THE VITALITY AND VIABILITY OF BRENTWOOD TOWN CENTRE OR ANY OTHER LOCAL DISTRICT SHOPPING CENTRE AS A WHOLE
ii) THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT IS EASILY ACCESSIBLE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT, FOOT AND CYCLE
*Proposals with a floor space of 2,500 sq.m. or more
5.13 For a number of years there has been interest, both from operators and the public, in the provision of a retail market, particularly in Brentwood Town Centre. It is felt that a market could provide an additional shopping attraction that would aid competition with other shopping centres outside the Borough and provide more shopping choice for residents. There are many types of markets, including Farmers Markets, Craft Markets and “Continental” Markets, which may not only enhance shopping choice but may act as an attraction to visitors.
5.14 The choice of location for a market has not, however, been straightforward, and this remains the case. One option would be to use one of the existing surface car parks, but the loss of short stay shoppers’ car parking and potential residential amenity problems has deferred any decision regarding a preferred location. A further option would be periodic use of part of the High Street, but concerns remain with the implications for traffic within the town centre.
5.15 Any proposals that come forward would need to be judged against the following policy criteria.
PROPOSALS FOR A RETAIL MARKET IN BRENTWOOD TOWN CENTRE OR OTHER DISTRICT CENTRE IN THE BOROUGH MAY BE PERMITTED WHERE IT:
i) WILL SUSTAIN OR ENHANCE SHOPPING PROVISION AND THE VITALITY OR VIABILITY OF THE SHOPPING AREA AND WILL NOT HAVE AN UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON THE VIABILITY OF ANY OTHER EXISTING SHOPPING CENTRE OR LOCAL SHOPPING PARADE
ii) WILL BE IN KEEPING WITH THE SCALE AND CHARACTER OF THE CENTRE
Petrol Filling Station Retail Facilities
5.16 It is increasingly common for petrol filling stations to provide additional shop facilities. Such facilities are also developing beyond the provision of car related products, newspapers and sweets to a much wider range of grocery products, videos etc., particularly with the emergence of some of the major food store operators now becoming involved.
5.17 Whilst the principle of more widely available local shopping facilities is to be supported, the activity associated with such expansion of uses should not give rise to a loss of amenity to surrounding residents or unnecessarily add to the clutter of advertisements or in any other way impact harmfully on the visual amenities of the area.
5.18 The Council will also be concerned that the location of such development and the level of provision are such that they would not have a detrimental impact on the viability of established shopping centres or indeed on a more sustainably sited shopping facility.
RETAIL FLOOR SPACE ASSOCIATED WITH PETROL FILLING STATIONS WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT HAVE AN UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON THE VIABILITY OF AN EXISTING SHOPPING CENTRE, LOCAL SHOPPING PARADE OR A MORE SUSTAINABLY LOCATED SHOPPING FACILITY
WHERE RETAIL PROPOSALS ARE NOT CONSIDERED ANCILLARY TO THE MAIN USE AS A PETROL FILLING STATION, THE NEED FOR THE RETAIL ELEMENT AND A SEQUENTIAL APPROACH WILL BE APPLIED.
CHANGE OF USE OF EXISTING SHOPS
5.19 Existing shopping within the Borough is provided within a hierarchy of centres. Brentwood Town Centre is the principal shopping area, followed by the district centres in the Brentwood Station Area, Shenfield Station Area and Ingatestone High Street, then the other local parades, and lastly the individual shop units. Whilst it is imperative to enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of the Borough’s main town and district shopping centres, it is equally important that a full range of shopping facilities is maintained throughout the Borough in order to meet all local shopping needs. An important contribution to this is made by the small local parades and individual shops within the villages and residential areas of the town providing for the day-to-day needs of residents within the immediate locality. Such facilities provide for the needs of the elderly and people without access to private transport who often rely on facilities being available locally, but also provide all local residents and workers with a convenient and sustainable choice of shopping facilities within walking distance.
Brentwood Town Centre
Non-Retail Uses within Local Shopping Centres and Parades
5.21 Commercial pressure continues for the conversion of retail premises to non-retail uses, usually Class A2, financial and professional services e.g. banks, estate agents; Class A3, restaurants and cafes; Class A4, drinking establishments; and Class A5, hot food takeaways (as defined in the Town and Country Planning Use Classes Order 1987). Such uses are both appropriate and beneficial to local shopping centres by attracting people to the area for services and entertainment. They can thereby play a positive role in the function of such commercial areas.
5.22 Banks and building societies provide financial services that are often linked to a shopping trip. Restaurants and fast food takeaways can provide a buoyant appearance, contribute to the attractiveness and vitality of the area and provide variety and activity outside normal business hours. Central Government advice underlines this and indicates that planning policies should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate the variety that these uses offer.
5.23 However, the over-concentration of groups of adjacent non-retail uses remains a concern in terms of the appearance and character of the frontage and, most importantly, because of the loss of retail floor space which may reduce the attractiveness of the centre and thus affect its viability. There is a need, therefore, to strike a balance between these potentially competing uses, by applying a policy that sets out defined criteria, which offers clear guidance to developers and allows for consistency in decision-making.
5.24 Local shopping centres and parades will normally have residential accommodation above the premises and/or in the immediate vicinity. A3, A4 and A5 uses may give rise to possible problems of noise, smell, etc., for adjacent residents and permission will only be granted where such potential problems can be overcome satisfactorily, e.g. by the imposition of planning conditions.
5.25 The following policy deals with both individual parades as well as the Borough's secondary district shopping centres. For ease of applying the criteria, the shopping centres of the Brentwood Station Area, Shenfield and Ingatestone are divided into specified blocks. The equivalent policy for Brentwood Town Centre is set out in Policy TC7.
WITHIN THE GROUND FLOOR OF PREMISES IN LOCAL SHOPPING CENTRES AND PARADES (OTHER THAN THE TOWN CENTRE) A FURTHER A2, A3, A4 OR A5 USE WILL BE PERMITTED ONLY WHERE:
i) IT WOULD RESULT IN NO MORE THAN TWO ADJACENT NON-RETAIL USES, AND
ii) IN THE CASE OF SHOPPING PARADES IT WOULD RESULT IN NO MORE THAN 40% OF UNITS WITHIN ANY PARADE BEING USED FOR NON-RETAIL USES OR, IN THE CASE OF THE FOLLOWING BLOCKS OF SHOPS, IT WOULD RESULT IN NO MORE THAN 40% OF UNITS WITHIN ANY BLOCK BEING USED FOR NON-RETAIL USES:
BRENTWOOD STATION AREA
a) 78-92 AND 93-99 KINGS ROAD
b) 104-130 AND 137-167 KINGS ROAD
c) 2-26 AND 1-33 WARLEY HILL, 2-10 VICTORIA ROAD AND 1-3 CRESCENT ROAD
d) 138-250 AND 65-105 HUTTON ROAD
e) 3-57 HIGH STREET (INCLUDING 1-5 SPREAD EAGLE PLACE) AND 26-108 HIGH STREET (INCLUDING 1-7 MARKET PLACE)
f) 118A-122 AND THE CROWN - THE LIBRARY, HIGH STREET
WHERE A3, A4 OR A5 USES MEET THE ABOVE CRITERIA, PLANNING PERMISSION WILL ONLY BE GRANTED WHERE THE IMPOSITION OF CONDITIONS REGARDING, INTER ALIA, HOURS OF OPENING, CONTROL OF NOISES AND SMELLS CAN PROTECT THE AMENITIES OF ADJACENT RESIDENTS AND THE SURROUNDING AREA. APPLICANTS WILL BE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT DETAILS OF EXTRACTION, FILTRATION, REFRIGERATION OR AIR CONDITIONING UNITS WITH THEIR APPLICATION.
APART FROM CHANGES OF USE TO A2, A3, A4 AND A5 IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE POLICY SET OUT ABOVE, CHANGE OF USE TO ANY OTHER NON-RETAIL USES WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
(1) The identification of the above blocks does not in any way imply that a further A2, A3, A4 or A5 use can be accommodated at the present time.
(2) For the purpose of calculating the above percentages, account will be taken of any outstanding unimplemented planning permissions
For the Town Centre see Policy TC7.
Non-Retail Use of Local Individual Shops
5.26 Whilst the Council will seek to retain local shops, in exceptional cases, where the Local Planning Authority can be reasonably satisfied that no demand for the retail unit exists, consideration may be given to its conversion to a non-retail use, but only in circumstances where it is not harmful to the amenities of nearby residents and where the proposed use would serve other needs of the local community.
5.27 Proposals affecting local shops and similar important local community facilities will be considered against the criteria set out in Policy LT11.