Development Management Document - Adopted July 2015

Section 5: Economic Development

5.1 As part of Thames Gateway South Essex and as a key regional centre, the regeneration and growth of Southend will be focussed on the following key drivers:

  • The renaissance of the town centre;
  • The development of the airport and associated business park;
  • The development of Southend's role as a cultural and intellectual hub and educational centre of excellence; and
  • The development of the leisure and visitor economy.

Policy DM10 – Employment Sectors

5.2 Sustainable economic prosperity will depend on building on existing strengths, seizing new opportunities and helping businesses to grow locally. As such the Borough Council considers it important to promote economic diversity within the local and sub-regional economy and ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to enable emerging growth sectors to prosper. The Southend-on-Sea Local Economic Assessment 2010 and its refresh in 2013 (LEA 2013) and the Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 (ELR 2010) identify a number of key sectoral groups that are important to the Borough's economy and future economic growth. The Council will seek to promote these sectors and ensure that their locational requirements are supported in a sustainable manner.

Aviation Industries

5.3 The aviation industry is set to grow rapidly following the redevelopment of London Southend Airport. Recent developments have included a new air traffic control tower (July 2011), a new Airport railway station (September 2011); a runway extension and new passenger terminal (March 2012); a new executive handling lounge (July 2012); and a Holiday Inn hotel development (October 2012). This growth is expected to support a number of complementary sectors including high-tech manufacturing and engineering. The Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) activities related to the airport are a critical element to the Southend economy.

Health and Medical Industries

5.4 Health and medical industries are an important element to Southend's economy. Southend University Hospital is the Borough's largest employer, whilst Olympus KeyMed, which manufactures medical equipment, is also a significant employer. A number of smaller companies dealing in medical instruments have emerged in the surrounding area, either directly or indirectly linked to Olympus KeyMed. Both the LEA 2013 and the ELR 2010 have forecast these industries to grow, which will provide an opportunity for a cluster of health and medical industries that are well related to Olympus KeyMed, the Hospital and University.

Business and Financial Services

5.5 The business and financial services sector is well represented in Southend and currently accounts for 23% of the Borough's workforce (ELR 2010). Both the LEA 2013 and the ELR 2010 indicate that whilst there is limited scope for large scale 'back-office' relocations of the scale once seen in Southend, there may be scope for medium sized operations. These documents also indicate that this sector has important indirect influence over other sectors in the Borough such as restaurants, bars and shops and will continue to be a key economic driver within the economy.

Culture and Intellectual Hub

5.6 The Department for Culture, Media and Sport defines the creative industries sector as those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent which have the potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. Significant investment has already taken place in the form of the new University of Essex campus in the town centre and further development works are scheduled. The creative and educational sectors represent a good opportunity for Southend to expand its economic diversity. The LEA 2013 identifies Southend Central, Westcliff and Leigh-on-Sea as the main cultural centres within the South Essex sub-region and the best locations in which to develop this industry.

Tourism and associated Leisure Activities

5.7 The tourism sector accounts for 12.3% of the Borough's economy (LEA 2013) and has a wider positive impact upon retailing, catering, entertainment and transport industries. A number of tourism and cultural developments are being progressed, which could stimulate economic growth in the Borough. In addition there is potential to launch Southend as a conference destination. As per education and cultural employment growth, the growth in tourism and associated leisure activities will enhance the reputation of Southend as a vibrant cosmopolitan urban centre.

Manufacturing, Construction and Warehousing

5.8 Although long term employment trends, as reported in the LEA 2013, outline a decline in the number of manufacturing and wholesale jobs in Southend, those associated with construction remained broadly neutral, these employment sectors continue to be an important part of the local economy.

Civic and Government Administration

5.9 The LEA 2013 reports that approximately a third of all jobs in Southend are in the public sector. An important public sector hub is centred along Victoria Avenue and contains the Borough Council offices and HM Revenue and Customs.

Policy DM10 – Employment Sectors

  1. Development that contributes to the promotion of sustainable economic growth by increasing the capacity and quality of employment land, floorspace, and jobs will be encouraged.
  2. The Southend Central Area, as defined in the Southend Central Area Action Plan, will form the primary location for major economic growth particularly for Class B1 office uses.
  3. Development proposals within the employment sectors identified within Policy Table 7 will principally be directed to the Priority Location Areas.

Policy Table 7 - Employment Sectors

Employment Sectors

Key Activities and features

Priority Location Areas

Aviation Industries

Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO)

London Southend Airport; Existing Employment Areas as identified in Policy Table 8.

Health and medical industries

Medical instruments; research and development; training and enterprise;

Existing health facilities; Existing Employment Areas as identified in Policy Table 8.

Business and financial services

Small and medium enterprises; managed accommodation; incubator/seedbed centres.

Southend Central Area; Employment Growth Areas as identified in Policy Table 8; London Southend Airport.

Cultural and intellectual hub and Higher Education centre of excellence

Individual creativity; arts; digital media; design, music etc; combination units comprising e.g. office and workshop; and Flexible space.

Southend Central Area; Leigh-on-Sea and Westcliff District Centres; Existing facilities.

Tourism and associated Leisure Activities

Hotels; restaurants; catering; Visitor Conference; other tourism related activities.

London Southend Airport (in relation to hotel provision, see DM12); Southend Central Area; the Seafront.

Manufacturing, Construction and Warehousing

Low density industrial; flexible; small and medium sized units; storage yards.

Existing Employment Areas as identified in Policy Table 8.

Civic and Government administration

Borough Council and HMRC

Southend Central Area.

Core Strategy Linkage:



Strategic Objective 1

Policy KP1: Spatial Strategy

Strategic Objective 2

Policy CP1: Employment Generating Development

Strategic Objective 3

Strategic Objective 4

Strategic Objective 5

Please refer to the Policies Map where applicable for land use designations related to Policy DM10.

Policy DM11 – Employment Areas

5.10 Due to the urbanised nature of Southend and its tightly defined administrative boundary, developable land is a scarce resource which needs to be effectively utilised to deliver the growth vision for the Borough and sub-region. A key consideration for economic development is that employment land has relatively lower land values compared to other land uses such as residential. As a consequence, it is necessary for land in employment use or desirable locations for employment development in market and sustainable terms, to be safeguarded or allocated to facilitate present and future economic growth, otherwise it is likely that this land will be developed for alternative uses.

5.11 Improving the quality of the existing stock of employment areas is essential if Southend is to meet key objectives of the Core Strategy and continue to further develop as an attractive location for a diverse range of successful businesses. This is necessary to stimulate regeneration and investment and raise the profile of Southend. Industrial estates and employment areas are identified in the Core Strategy as 'Priority Urban Areas', which form a network of areas where new development and investment will be focused with the aim of contributing to the creation of 2,750 of the 13,000 jobs to be delivered in Southend by 2021.

5.12 The retention and provision of employment sites is particularly necessary to enable balanced job and housing growth in line with the Core Strategy. Furthermore, the 'Employment Areas' contain a range of sites and premises that meet the needs of the business community as identified within the Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010. However, the National Planning Policy Framework advises local authorities to take a pragmatic approach to the protection of employment sites where there are high vacancy rates and where there is no long term or reasonable prospect of a site being used for the designated employment use. To create a strong, responsive and competitive economy, whilst supporting sustainable economic growth in line with the Core Strategy, policies need to be flexible whilst ensuring that the needs of the community are met. To this end, the Borough Council will seek to retain Class B uses at employment sites, whilst at the same time acknowledge that it may not always be appropriate to retain units which are persistently vacant and where there is no prospect of them coming into Class B use in the long term. In these circumstances the Borough Council recognises that other non-Class B uses may be appropriate where they are deliverable, and do not significantly undermine overall future employment supply based on identified need.

5.13 In May 2013 the Government introduced new permitted development rights[5] allowing the change of use of offices to residential, subject to certain limitations and conditions. Policy DM11 will apply where permitted development rights cannot be exercised.

5.14 The Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review (2010) provides an assessment of employment areas in the Borough. It recommends that some existing employment areas have the potential to provide for increased/ modern employment floorspace – these are termed 'Employment Growth Areas' in this policy. Similarly, the Employment Land Review also recommends sites that should be retained and protected for employment uses – these sites are termed 'Industrial Estates and Business Estates' in this policy, however, both terms fall under the umbrella of Employment Areas and are defined on the Policies Map. The Survey of Key Employment areas (Sept 2013) outlined that these Employment Areas are performing well with the majority having high occupancy levels.

5.15 The Council will monitor and manage the function of the Employment Areas so that these areas can continue to positively contribute to strategic and local economic objectives.

5.16 Site specific allocations for the provision of new employment land will be progressed through other appropriate development plan documents. These will consider, inter alia, the allocation of impending and upcoming sites within broad spatial locations, such as those within Priority Urban Areas as defined by the Core Strategy; including potential allocations at Fossetts Farm and Shoebury Garrison.

5.17 The Core Strategy, in setting out broad locations for employment growth, identifies inter alia Shoebury Garrison (Phase 1 & 2) and Fossetts Farm as Priority Urban Areas, where appropriate regeneration and growth will be focused. As previously stated, potential land allocations for these impending and upcoming locations, will be further addressed in future development plan documents as appropriate.

Small and Medium Enterprises

5.18 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make an important contribution to the Southend economy. Approximately 4,245 businesses in the Borough employ between 1 and 10 employees. This comprises 80.2% of all the VAT and PAYE registered companies (Source: Interdepartmental Business Register (IDBR) 2011). SMEs account for 11,880 employees, which is equivalent to 13% of all economically active people in the Borough. SMEs are diverse and have varying accommodation requirements.

5.19 The Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 highlights a need within Southend for more managed accommodation for new companies, particularly grow-on space from incubator units. It's important the future provision provides a choice in terms of location and premise size for business services. If Southend is to facilitate growth, incubator, grow-on and medium sized premises are required in a variety of locations.

Employment Growth Areas

5.20 The Southend Central Area, as defined in the Southend Central Area Action Plan, will form the primary location for major economic growth particularly for Class B1 office use. The Southend Central Area Action Plan contains a number of Proposal Site Policies that provide detailed information on where this investment should be prioritised. Nevertheless, the Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 also identified several existing employment sites across the borough that have the potential to provide suitable locations for increased modern/ future employment provision and will be managed by appropriate means. These sites are outlined below.

5.21 Progress Road and Prittle Brook Industrial Estate offer significant regeneration opportunities over the long term. Progress Road, has several vacant units, many of which are in a poor state of repair. It is clear that redevelopment of old units for modern employment uses is required over the long term. The Progress Road Estate Framework: Design Brief (2009) outlines which use classes are appropriate within the estate and the Borough Council is working in partnership to redevelop this area on a plot-by-plot basis in line with the adopted Brief.

5.22 Prittle Brook Industrial Estate is available for comprehensive redevelopment with the site being completely cleared of all premises. The Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 recommends protecting this large employment development opportunity and primarily redeveloping the site for future employment purposes as part of a mixed use scheme. Such a scheme should be taken forward through a planning brief.

5.23 Terminal Close, in Shoeburyness, is currently in poor condition. This site provides opportunity for mixed use development, to provide modern, good quality employment provision. It is considered that the site should be primarily retained for employment uses providing a minimum of 4,000m2 of hybrid office/workshop units to support business service and potential creative industries and start-up businesses.

5.24 The existing employment floorspace at Shoebury Garrison (Phase 1 development) has several new good quality units and should be safeguarded. As outlined above, Shoebury Garrison Phase 2 is a potential forthcoming employment site, identified for future employment growth as part of a mixed use development. Any future site allocation for Shoebury Garrison Phase 2 land will be addressed through other appropriate development plan documents. Phase 1 and 2 were first identified in the Shoebury Garrison Development Brief (1999) as containing approximately 0.9 and 11.3 ha of land for employment and other mixed-use purposes respectively.

5.25 Grainger Road and Short Street are located outside the town centre but within the wider Southend Central Area. Grainger Road consists of older industrial units with some vacant units, whilst Short Street comprises a mixture of employment units. The Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 recommends protecting Grainger Road for employment uses with potential to redevelop as an employment-led mixed-use scheme to provide a better relationship with surrounding residential uses. It is also recommended that Short Street is protected and retained for employment uses.

Industrial Estates and Business Estates

5.26 There is a need to manage existing employment land and buildings within Southend. Upgrading employment land will provide an opportunity to improve the stock of employment premises in the Borough. Indeed improving the quality of the existing stock of the industrial and business estates is essential if Southend is to be an attractive location for a diverse range of successful businesses and employers.

5.27 The Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 sets out the existing employment sites that are considered to have continued value and therefore should continue to be protected from loss in the first instance.

Marketing and Market Demand evidence

5.28 In instances where marketing and/ or market demand evidence is required in accordance with Policy DM11, planning applications must demonstrate clear and robust evidence that there is no demand for use of the building, unit, floorspace and/or site for employment purposes. Evidence that the floorspace has been vacant and actively marketed for employment purposes during a period of at least two years will be required to demonstrate this. In exceptional cases, where market demand may be affected by site-specific circumstances and the floorspace has been vacant for less than two years, a market demand analysis may be considered suitable as evidence of lack of demand. This must be submitted alongside or, where justified, in place of marketing and vacancy evidence. The applicant may be required to fund an independent assessment of the market demand analysis, which will be commissioned by the Council. Appendix 4 sets out the information to be provided in relation to marketing of vacant floorspace (Part A) and for market demand analysis (Part B).

5.29 Outside the Employment Areas an appraisal will be required in order to satisfy the loss of employment floorspace and/ or employment land in instances where planning permission is required. Appendix 4 Part C sets out the information to be provided.

Policy DM11 –Employment Areas

  1. Major redevelopment proposals within the Employment Areas (Policy Table 8) should seek to make provision for a range of flexible unit sizes including accommodation that supports small and medium sized enterprises, where this is feasible, to ensure the needs of businesses are met in accordance with market signals. This should take account of the location and type of business proposed to ensure land is used efficiently. Where appropriate, incubator / seedbed centres and/or affordable workspaces will be sought.
  2. The Borough Council will support the retention, enhancement and development of Class B uses within the Employment Areas shown on the Policies Map and described in Policy Table 8. Proposals that fall outside of a Class B employment use will only be granted permission where:
    1. the development proposal is a 'sui generis' use of a similar employment nature, which is compatible with and will not compromise the operating conditions of the Employment Area; or
    2. the development proposal is in conformity with a planning brief, or similar planning policy document, that has been adopted by the Borough Council for the concerned site, which sets out other appropriate uses; or
    3. it can be demonstrated to the Council's satisfaction that:
      1. there is no long term or reasonable prospect of the site concerned being used for Class B purposes.*; and
      2. the use is compatible with and will not compromise the operating conditions for other employment uses or the potential future use of neighbouring sites for employment uses; and
      3. the alternative use cannot be reasonably located elsewhere within the area it serves**; and
      4. the use will not give rise to unacceptable traffic generation, noise, odour or vehicle parking; or
    4. it can be shown that the development will be a complementary and supporting use, which is both subservient and ancillary to the principal employment uses and serves the day-time needs of the estate's working population and will not result in a material change to the Class B character and function of the area.

* This should include a minimum 2 year active marketing exercise where the vacant site / floorspace has been offered for sale or letting on the open market at a realistic price and that no reasonable offers have been refused. In exceptional cases related to site-specific circumstances, where the vacancy period has been less than two years, a robust market demand analysis which supplements any marketing and vacancy evidence may be considered acceptable. Appendix 4 sets out the information to be provided in relation to marketing and market demand.

** The Borough Council will make a judgement about the extent of the area based upon the site concerned and the proposed use.

  1. The Employment Growth Areas identified within column 1 of Policy Table 8 will be promoted as locations for increased modern employment floorspace. A managed approach will be sought at the Employment Growth Areas through other planning policy documents, including planning briefs, that will set out the quantum of development and appropriate uses.
  2. Proposals for employment generating uses outside the Employment Areas (Policy Table 8) will be allowed where they do not impact upon the amenity of the surrounding uses and do not conflict with other development plan policies.
  3. Outside the Employment Areas (Policy Table 8), proposals for alternative uses on sites used (or last used) for employment purposes, including sites for sui-generis uses of an employment nature, will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:
    1. it will no longer be effective or viable to accommodate the continued use of the site for employment purposes***; or
    2. Use of the site for B2 or B8 purposes gives rise to unacceptable environmental problems.

It will need to be demonstrated that an alternative use or mix of uses will give greater potential benefits to the community and environment than continued employment use.

*** Appendix 4 Part C sets out the information to be provided as part of this appraisal.

Policy Table 8: Existing Employment Areas

Employment Areas

1. Employment Growth Areas

2. Industrial / Business Estates

Shoebury Garrison (Phase 1)

Progress Road

Prittle Brook Industrial Estate

Terminal Close

Grainger Road

Short Street

Thanet Grange

Comet Way

Airborne Close

Airborne Industrial Estate

Laurence Industrial Estate

Aviation Way

Temple Farm

Stock Road

Rosshill Industrial Park

Priory Works

Prince Close

Vanguard Way

Towerfield Road

Campfield Road

Tickfield Avenue

Core Strategy Linkage:



Strategic Objective 1

Policy KP1: Spatial Strategy

Strategic Objective 2

Policy CP1: Employment Generating Development

Strategic Objective 3

Strategic Objective 4

Strategic Objective 5

Please refer to the Policies Map where applicable for land use designations related to Policy DM11.

Policy DM12 – Visitor Accommodation

5.30 Tourism and cultural industries within Southend are important for sustained economic growth in the Borough. Visitor accommodation is an important part of the tourism sector, which is emphasised in the Southend-on-Sea Local Economic Assessment 2013. This document notes that whilst only 5% of visitors to Southend stay overnight, 28% of tourism jobs in Southend are sustained by overnight stays. There are opportunities in Southend to develop this sector by promoting the following market segments:

  • Higher income group day visitors – drawn by developing cultural attractions;
  • Short break activity weekends – based on watersports, kitesurfing, golf, riding, indoor tennis, arts festivals;
  • Business conference tourism – following the establishment of recent quality hotel conferencing facilities with potential for this sector to grow;
  • Foreign language students – using out of term student accommodation; and
  • London staying visits – utilising the regular, accessible and direct rail linksfrom Southend to London.

5.31 The Southend-on-Sea Hotel Futures Report 2010 made an assessment of potential hotel market demand and indicated potential for future growth in this sector over the next 20-years. It is necessary therefore that the Borough Council manages this growth in a sustainable manner that positively contributes to the Borough's regeneration and economic objectives.

Hotel Locations

5.32 The Southend-on-Sea Hotel Futures Report 2010 considered existing and planned (new and refurbished) hotel capacity as at 2010, against prospects for growth in provision. The identified hotel capacity for Southend included the recently completed hotel development at London Southend Airport and a former permission as part of the development of a new stadium for Southend United at Fossetts Farm, and the hotel at Garon Park promoted in the adopted Garon Park Development Brief in response to Core Strategy Policy CP6 3.a.

5.33 The study went on to identify potential for hotel development over the next 10 to 20 years as the town's economy and leisure tourism offer develops, and stated that there are many sites in Southend that can accommodate future hotel sites, although there is a need to prioritise locations and sites to ensure that hotels are directed to where they can deliver the greatest benefit. In accordance with the study, hotel development will therefore be prioritised within the 'Key Areas': Southend Central Area, at London Southend Airport and close to the Seafront.

5.34 In this context, the Seafront will not be considered as a defined area but as relating to an area that clearly has a strong relationship with the Seafront. This relationship will be considered on a site-by-site basis and will take account of an area's function and connectivity with the Seafront and specifically whether there are clear, convenient and direct walking routes to the Seafront. New hotels in the town centre and Central Area and close to the Seafront will contribute to developing the visitor and evening economy of these locations. The expansion of the airport and associated business parks will help support hotel development that is directly associated with the airport's operations.

5.35 In line with Policy KP2 of the adopted Core Strategy development proposals should seek to minimise the use of 'greenfield' land and make the best use of previously developed land, wherever possible. To ensure new hotel development is located in sustainable and accessible locations the Council will expect proposals to relate well with the Borough's strategic routes and distributer roads.

5.36 Outside of these areas, further hotel development will be discouraged in order to facilitate new hotels in the town centre and Central Area, close to the Seafront and at the airport. Hotels outside of these locations would compete for a share of the wider Southend market and would undermine potential growth in the key locations and detrimentally impact upon sustainable tourism and economic growth in the Borough.

Viability Assessment

5.37 The loss of visitor accommodation could have an adverse impact on the resort character and economy within Southend. The Council will protect sites used, or last used, for visitor accommodation within the 'Key Areas' of Southend unless non-viability can be demonstrated. With regard to meeting Policy DM12.2(i), applications for change of use will need to be accompanied by:

  • Proof of marketing for sale - for a continuous period of at least 2 years at a competitive price taking account of current trading performance and condition (Appendix 4, Part A, sets out the information to be provided in relation to marketing);
  • Evidence of business performance – including, details of occupancy and achieved occupancy rate data for the last 2 years along with accounts to explain how the business is performing in line with levels of occupancy typical of industry/ destination norms; and
  • Evidence of professional management – this includes details of marketing and business plans for the last 2 years to demonstrate investment plans and attempts made to attract business.

5.38 The Council will encourage an open book approach and may seek independent advice, funded by the applicant, to test the veracity of any viability assessment. This verification will assess the accuracy and robustness of the matters listed above.             

5.39 It is recognised that for smaller 'lifestyle' businesses, commercial viability is more difficult to test. In such cases proof of marketing for sale with specialist and local agents at a realistic price may be sufficient on its own. The Council will be flexible in its approach and have regard to all material considerations at the time of the application. In all instances the level of information required should be agreed with the Council prior to submitting a planning application

Policy DM12 – Visitor Accommodation

  1. New visitor accommodation will be focused within the Southend Central Area, London Southend Airport area and at locations with good access and a clear and strong relationship with the Seafront (the 'KeyAreas'). Proposals must relate well to strategicroutes and the distributor road network, have good public transport accessibility, and meet the requirements of other relevant planning policies.
  2. Within the Key Areas in (1) visitor accommodation will be retained. Proposals for alternative uses on sites used (or last used) for visitor accommodation will be considered where it can be demonstrated that:
    1. the site is no longer viable or feasible for visitor accommodation*; and
    2. the proposal meets all other relevant planning policies.

    Where an alternative use is considered acceptable by the Council, applications that would contribute positively to the leisure, recreation and tourism offer in the Borough will be considered favourably.

    *Supporting text paragraph 5.37 and Appendix 4 Part A sets out the information to be provided

  3. Proposals for alternative uses on sites used (or last used) for visitor accommodation outside the Key Areas in (1) will generally be permitted provided that the proposal meets other relevant planning policies

Core Strategy Linkage:



Strategic Objective 1

Policy KP1: Spatial Strategy

Strategic Objective 2

Policy KP2: Development Principles

Policy CP1: Employment Generating Development

Strategic Objective 14

Please refer to the Policies Map where applicable for land use designations related to Policy DM12.

Policy DM13 – Shopping Frontage Management outside the Town Centre

A Commentary on the Core Strategy Retail Centre Hierarchy and Appropriate Uses

5.40 Policy CP2 of the Southend Core Strategy DPD sets out the retail hierarchy and network of centres within the Borough. Southend Town Centre's role is a regional centre and will remain the first preference for all forms of retail development and for other town centre uses attracting large numbers of people. Development within the Town Centre should be in accordance with the spatial strategy set out in Policy KP1 of the Core Strategy DPD.

5.41 The centres of Westcliff (Hamlet Court Road) and Leigh will support Southend Town Centre as District Centres providing a range of local comparison shopping, convenience shopping and services to the neighbouring communities. Existing centres elsewhere will be supported as local centres and will meet the day to day convenience needs of their local communities. Town centre and retail development should be located within these centres, should contribute to their vitality and viability, and must be appropriate to the function, size and character of the centre concerned, in accordance with the above hierarchy and priorities.

5.42 The Retail Study (2011) concluded that the retail hierarchy and classification of centres as set out by the Core Strategy is appropriate. The Council will consider a range of uses at ground floor level and above in each centre as outlined by Appendix 5. Other uses not set out in Appendix 5 may be acceptable but will need to be considered on a case by case basis. Nevertheless, the merits of a development proposal would need to be considered against all relevant planning policies; particular regard should be made to Policy DM13, set out below, and the policy approach to the management of the Town Centre's primary and secondary shopping frontages.

Primary and Secondary Shopping Frontages within District and Local Centres

5.43 Primary frontages in the District and Local Centres of Southend, as defined on the Policies Map, perform a vital retail function for the areas that they serve and contribute to maintaining sustainable communities. These primary frontages predominantly comprise of retail uses (A1 Use Class) and are characterised by a low level of vacant units.[6]

5.44 It is important that the retail character and function of the primary frontages is not eroded as they are important for local economic vitality. Primary frontages can be appropriate locations for a range of retail and non-retail uses including banking, insurance, food and drink. These uses can complement the retail function of the primary frontage adding to their attraction, and encouraging multi-purpose journeys. However, an over-concentration of non-retail uses within the primary frontage can detract from its shopping function and may prejudice its vitality and viability, create extensive lengths of "dead" frontage and a lack of proper shop window displays. This can detract from the attractiveness of the street to shoppers or isolate particular shops or areas from the main pedestrian flows through an over-concentration and clustering of non-A1 retail uses. It is therefore necessary to manage the shopping function of centres to ensure their vitality and viability is not significantly harmed.

5.45 To ensure that a healthy balance of uses is maintained, the Council will actively manage the concentration of different Use Classes (under the Use Class Order) within the Primary Shopping Frontages as depicted on the Policies Map. By designating and protecting key frontages it is possible to control the proportion of retail and non-retail uses to ensure the District and Local Centres remain attractive places to shop.

5.46 It should be noted however that the Council is unable to determine exactly what the final use of the shop may be. For example, permission may be granted for an 'A1' use retail shop, but no distinction can be made as to whether this shop is, for instance, a clothes shop, hairdressers, or a travel agency.

5.47 The Policies Map defines discrete areas of Primary Shopping Frontage within District and Local Centres. In relation to Policy DM13 point 2(i) and establishing the current proportion of non-retail uses within each centre, Appendix 7 outlines the extent of frontage to be measured when assessing a development proposal.

5.48 Secondary frontages often contain mainly retail uses but can also offer a greater diversity of other business uses that provide important services for the areas that they serve. It is therefore important that the character and function of these secondary frontages, in terms of providing an active frontage, are maintained and enhanced as they provide a vital service, meeting the day-to-day needs of local communities. Appendix 8 outlines the extent of secondary shopping frontages within the Borough.

5.49 The Council will monitor the role and function of the primary and secondary frontages through regular surveys to ascertain the range of goods and services available to shoppers and visitors, and to identify any significant and long term trends.

5.50 The approach to managing shopping frontages in the Town Centre is set out in the Southend Central Area Action Plan, which refers to Town Centre Primary Shopping Frontages and Town Centre Secondary Shopping Frontages. Policy DM13, outlined below, does not apply to these frontages in the Town Centre.

Temporary Uses and Permitted Development Rights

5.51 Under recently introduced permitted development rights[7], buildings in specific Use Classes (A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1 and D2) will be able to change to one of a limited number of alternative Use Classes (A1, A2, A3 and B1) for a single continuous period of up to two years without requiring planning permission. Such permitted development is subject to certain conditions and is temporary in nature. However, there will remain instances where the change of use of a building does not constitute permitted development and would require the granting of planning permission.

5.52 For the purposes of calculating the proportion of retail in any given frontage (in respect to policy DM13 point 2i), any building operating under a permitted 'flexible use' at the time of assessment will be considered on the basis of the use class it had prior to the temporary use change (in accordance with Class D2 (d) of the GPDO amendment). For example, a retail shop (A1) which has temporarily changed its use to a bank (A2) under the new permitted development rights would still be considered as an A1 unit for the purposes of determining the overall percentage of retailing (A1).

5.53 In respect to Policy DM13.2(i) vacant units could include units occupied for 'meanwhile uses' or temporary uses, permitted through a temporary planning permission or under permitted development rights.

5.54 Further permitted development rights were introduced in 2014[8]. Policy DM13 will apply as part of the prior approval process in relation to Class IA. In particular, in respect to matters in Class IA.2 (1)(b)(iv)(aa) the following will apply within Primary Shopping Frontages:

  • The 60% retail threshold referred to in Policy DM13 will equate to an "adequate provision of services";
  • The marketing criteria in Appendix 4 will apply in determining whether "there is a reasonable prospect of the building being used to provide such services".

5.55 In respect to Class IA.2 (1)(b)(iv)(bb) the following applies:

  • A "key shopping area" is the same as the Primary Shopping Frontages and Secondary Shopping Frontages as defined on the Policies Map.

Policy DM13 – Shopping Frontage Management outside the Town Centre

  1. Primary and secondary shopping frontages within Southend will be managed to reinforce their attractiveness, vitality and viability within the daytime and night-time economies. The character and function of both typesof frontage will be protected and enhanced.
  2. The Policies Map defines discrete areas of Primary Shopping Frontage within District and Local Centres. Within each of the identified primary shopping frontage areas, proposals for Class A1 retail use will be supported and its loss will be resisted. The change of use of ground floor Class A1 units to other uses of the Use Classes Order 1987 (as amended) or 'sui generis' uses of a retail nature will only be considered if:
    1. The proposed use will not result in the proportion of frontage (measured in terms of length of frontage) remaining in retail use (class A1) falling below 60% within each centre as a whole. Where retail use (class A1) already falls below 60% of the primary shopping frontage length, no further loss of Class A1 will be allowed unless it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Council that the A1 use is no longer viable through an effective 2 year marketing exercise where the vacant property has been offered for sale or letting on the open market at a realistic price and no reasonable offers have been refused*; and
    2. It can be demonstrated that the proposed change of use would enhance the vitality and viability of the centre and would not lead to the isolation of A1 retail uses; and
    3. An active frontage is retained or provided with a display function for goods and services rendered and the proposed use will provide a direct service to visiting members of the general public.

* Appendix 4 sets out the information to be provided in relation to marketing of vacant floorspace.

  1. All developments in the secondary shopping frontage, as defined on the Policies Map, must maintain or provide an active frontage with a display function for goods and services rendered and the proposed use will provide a direct service to visiting members of the general public.
  2. All new shop frontages will be of a high standard of design that is compatible with the architectural style and character of the building and surrounding area. The design of new shop fronts should have regard to the Design and Townscape Guide SPD and address the following design principles:
    1. The loss of traditional features and shop fronts which make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the building or surrounding area will be resisted unless it can be demonstrated that the benefits of a proposal significantly outweigh their loss;
    2. Blank frontages will be resisted on principal elevations and opportunities for exposing upper floor windows maximised.
  3. Where an empty unit has little prospect of being occupied within a primary or secondary shopping frontage in the short term, the Council will encourage the landowner/landlord to display local art within the windows to create visual interest from the public realm.

Core Strategy Linkage:



Strategic Objective 1

Policy KP1: Spatial Strategy

Strategic Objective 8

Policy CP1: Employment Generating Development

Policy CP2: Town Centre and Retail Development

Please refer to the Policies Map where applicable for land use designations related to Policy DM13.

[5] Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013

[6] As reported in the 'Technical Report - The Management of Designated Shopping Frontages in Southend-on-Sea' (Oct 2013)

[7] Class D of 'The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013'

[8] The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment and Consequential Provisions) (England) Order 2014

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