Core Strategy - Adopted December 2007
Section 4 - Town Centre and Retail Development
4.1 National planning policy is set out in particular in Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS6), Planning for Town Centres. This requires local planning authorities, through their development plans, to implement the Government's objectives by planning positively for the growth and development of existing centres, promoting their vitality and viability, focusing development in them, and encouraging a wide range of services in a good environment, accessible to all.
4.2 Provision should be made for a range of shopping, leisure and local services, which allow genuine choice to meet the needs of the entire community, particularly excluded groups, and which remedy deficiencies in provision in areas with poor access to facilities. The economic growth of regional, sub-regional and local economies should also be promoted through such action.
4.3 Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS6) states that local planning authorities should therefore:
- develop a hierarchy and network of centres;
- assess the need for further main town centre uses and ensure there is the capacity to accommodate them, and
- focus development in, and plan for the expansion of, existing centres as appropriate.
4.4 Similarly, the emerging Regional Spatial Strategy, the East of England Plan, states that thriving, vibrant and attractive town centres are fundamental to the sustainable development of the region and will continue to be the focus for investment, environmental enhancement and regeneration (Policy SS6). Within the RSS structure of retail centres, Southend is identified as a major regional centre, whilst other town and local centres that complete the structure locally will be defined in Local Development Documents (Policy E5).
4.5 Policy E9 also requires new retail development to be located in existing centres and to be consistent in scale with the size and character of the centre and its role in the regional structure. It also requires local development documents to propose development and enhancement of retail and services to implement sustainable regeneration and growth, in accordance with sub-regional strategies and policies.
4.6 The relevant sub-regional strategy and policy for Essex Thames Gateway is set out in the East of England Plan (Policy ETG1) and reflects the vision and strategy of the Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership. It is to develop Southend as a cultural and intellectual hub and a higher education centre of excellence, with a focus on the regeneration of Southend Town Centre to secure a full range of quality sub-regional services and facilities providing 6,500 new jobs and 1,650 additional homes.
4.7 The regeneration of Southend Town Centre is also a key priority at the local level, together with the reduction of unemployment and an increase in the range of local job opportunities in the town, identified by the local community through the Local Strategic Partnership's Community Plan.
4.8 The Southend on Sea Retail Study was undertaken in 2003, and provides detailed information to help guide the implementation of the Government's objectives and take forward the strategic context outlined above at the local level to cover the period to 2016. Based on its findings, the Study Report provides recommendations with regard to the level of different shopping needs in the Borough, and how these needs can appropriately be met.
4.9 In particular, the Study concluded that:
- Southend Town Centre functions successfully, and should continue to function, as a sub-regional comparison shopping destination. In order to maintain that function and its position in the hierarchy, however, the Town Centre should develop further, and preferably in depth to counter-act its current linear nature, with additional modern town centre comparison goods floorspace. There is scope for approximately 21,000 sq metres of such additional floorspace in the period up to 2016;
- the District Centres of Westcliff and Leigh are now functioning more strongly, serving convenience, comparison and service needs of the neighbouring communities. However, there is little or no scope for significant additional floorspace in these centres, and any expenditure growth generated in the foreseeable future should be used to support the vitality and viability of existing floorspace;
- other centres in the Borough serve a more local function, primarily providing main and top-up food and convenience shopping and local service needs;
- overall, the main foodstores in the Borough provide relatively comprehensive provision. There is, however, a qualitative (geographical) deficiency to the east of the town centre, in the vicinity of Southchurch and Thorpe Bay. There is also evidence of over-trading in certain main foodstores, and capacity for some 5,000 sq metres of net additional floorspace across the Borough as a whole in the period to 2016, including the provision of one additional main foodstore, preferably located to meet the identified qualitative deficiency;
- there is a specific issue with regard to the provision of 'bulky goods' facilities, where the range and choice in the Borough is limited, with many stores small and dated and significant leakage of expenditure from the Southend catchment area to competing destinations. There is therefore considerable quantitative and qualitative scope for additional such facilities, to support additional expenditure growth, improve the facilities available, achieve clawback of expenditure leakage, and make provision appropriate to a major regional centre. Capacity for up to about 30,000sq metres (including commitments) based on out of centre format stores was considered to exist.
4.10 However the Southend on Sea Retail Study predates the Governments new retail guidance (PPS6) which makes no distinction between comparison and bulky goods floorspace. A single comparison goods floorspace estimate only should be provided.
4.11 As the Southend on Sea Retail Study is based on an earlier assessment of shopping patterns, an early review of the Study is needed to update and roll forward its finding to cover the period to 2021 and to take account of more up to date retail evidence, some of which suggests that retail demand/potential in the Borough has grown reflecting the next phase of its regeneration and growth.
4.12 However, the Southend on Sea Retail Study is a bespoke household survey based study providing a comprehensive retail assessment to 2016. It is a sound basis for guiding retail provision in the Borough pending a review of its provisions.
4.13 The figures in the Study have been adjusted to take account of existing commitments at 31st March 2006 and, in the case of comparison goods, of the different trading densities of Town Centre and out of town stores. The indications are that in the order of 24,000 to 28,000 square metres net of additional comparison goods floorspace and between 3,000 and 3,500 square metres net of additional convenience goods floorspace is required in the Borough between 2006 and 2016.
4.14 In the light of the evidence base provided by all the above, Policy CP2 below provides a core strategic policy to give local application to Government objectives, regional and sub-regional strategy and identified local needs and priorities. This policy is primarily spatial in its approach, in order to plan positively for the growth and development of existing centres, in particular Southend Town Centre, and to complement the more 'criteria based' approach of national and regional policy set out in PPS6 and East of England Plan, which will also apply to the consideration of town centre and retail development in the Borough.
4.15 Options for such a spatial approach include:
- focusing all development in a regenerated Southend town centre;
- spreading development more widely but only within existing centres;
- directing development to new locations outside existing centres.
4.16 Considerations of sustainability, the continued vitality and viability of existing centres, and national and regional policy (including the development of Southend as a major regional centre) point clearly to a combination of options a) and b) as the most appropriate. However, it must also be recognised, having regard to identified local needs and opportunities, that it may not always be possible to meet these needs within those options. This relates in particular to the provision of an appropriate range, quality and choice of 'bulky goods' facilities, identified in the Southend-on-Sea Retail Study as a specific issue needing to be addressed. It may be necessary to allow for these in other locations (an element of option c), where there are existing retail offers if no suitable sites are available in existing centres.
4.17 Policy CP2 below seeks to reflect these considerations in its sequential preferences and in the tests that proposals elsewhere would need to meet. It replaces the following development plan policies in the adopted Southend-on-Sea Borough Local Plan:
Policy S2 – Southend Town Centre
Policy S3 – Large Shopping Developments
Policy S4 – Retail Markets
Policy S6 – Fringe Commercial Areas
Borough Local Plan Policies S1, S5, S7, S8 and S9 will remain part of the Development Plan for the Borough, pending their review as part of the preparation of a 'Criteria Based Policies and Site Allocations' Development Plan Document, as programmed in the Borough Council's Local Development Scheme.
Policy CP2 - Town Centre and Retail Development
Southend Town Centre will remain the first preference for all forms of retail development and for other town centre uses attracting large numbers of people, as set out in relevant national planning policy, the East of England Plan and local strategies and plans. It will be supported and developed in accordance with the spatial strategy set out in Policy KP1:
- as a regional centre providing the full range of high quality sub-regional services and facilities required to meet the needs of Essex Thames Gateway for higher order retail, leisure, cultural and higher education services, for office-based employment, and for higher quality mixed use development to secure new jobs and homes;
- as the key focus and driver for the regeneration of Southend, and
- as a priority location for urban renaissance.
The centres of Westcliff (Hamlet Court Road) and Leigh will be supported 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 only, meeting chiefly 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.
In order to maintain and promote the vitality and viability of these centres their functions in the retail hierarchy, their roles and priorities in the regeneration of the Borough, and to meet forecast quantitative shopping needs and currently identified qualitative deficiencies, provision for retail development in Southend will be delivered through the Regeneration Framework and Masterplans of Renaissance Southend Limited (RSL), supporting and supported by the Local Development Framework as follows:
- additional comparision goods floorspace, to be located
in accordance with the sequential preference:
- within Southend Town Centre;
- on the edge of Southend Town Centre, where the development will contribute to and not prejudice achievement of the regeneration and urban renaissance objectives for the Town Centre.
An Area Action Plan for the Town Centre, and the work to inform it through RSL's Central Area Masterplan, will set out the detailed proposals for delivering the additional floorspace required to meet forecast needs;
- the consolidation, improvement and modernisation of existing floorspace and its environment within the District Centres of Westcliff and Leigh, in order to provide and maintain .a range of shopping, services and facilities for the neighbouring communities. The provision of significant additional retail floorspace within these centres, will not, however, be supported;
- within other existing centres to support their role as local centres only, where the development is in keeping with the function and scale of the centre concerned.
- additional convenience goods floorspace, to be located
in accordance with the following sequential preference:
- within Southend Town Centre;
- on the edge of Southend Town Centre, where the development will contribute to and not prejudice achievement of the regeneration and urban renaissance objectives for the Town Centre;
- expansion of provision in other existing centres, where the development is in keeping with the function and scale of the centre concerned, to facilitate their improvement, modernisation and adaptation, and to meet locally generated needs;
- within the area bounded by the Southend Town Centre to the west, Southchurch (A13) to the north, Lifstans Way to the east and Marine Parade/Eastern Esplanade to the south to meet an identified qualitative deficiency.
Any proposal not in accordance with the above hierarchy and sequential preferences will be required to demonstrate that:
- there is a need for the proposed development, and in particular that it would contribute to meeting the development needs and objectives set out in this policy or, where it seeks to demonstrate other need to be met, it would not prejudice the achievement of those needs and objectives, or the wider strategic objectives of this Core Strategy;
- it would not prejudice the role of Southend Town Centre as a regional centre and, in all its functions, as the key driver of regeneration in the Borough and its urban renaissance;
- a sequential approach and test has been rigorously followed in the selection of the site, in accordance with national planning policy and the sequential preferences set out in this policy; and
- there are no unacceptable impacts on any other existing centres.
The Council will undertake an early review of the Southend Retail Study to update and roll forward its provisions to cover the period to 2021. It will subsequently monitor and manage the provision of retail and other town centre development within Southend, and the evidence base supporting the assessment of future needs, to ensure that those needs, and the objectives for the regeneration of the Borough and an urban renaissance of the Town Centre, are met.
Core Policy CP2: Town Centre and Retail Development – Monitoring and Implementation Framework
Percentage of completed retail, development in existing centres (Floorspace)
Amount of retail floorspace completed in accordance with sequential preferences
(i)Total amount of net additional comparison retail, floorspace developed
(i) 24,000 to 28,000
sqm net of additional comparison goods floorspace in the Borough 2006 and 2016
SO1, SO2, SO4, SO5, SO8, SO10, SO13, SO14, SO15
SBC, RSL,td, TGSE,
EEDA, Retail Sector, Development Industry
(ii) Total amount of net additional convenience floorspace developed
(i) Up to 3,000 to 3,500sqm net of additional convenience goods floorspace in the Borough between 2006 and 2016
SO1, SO4, SO5, SO8, SO13, SO14, SO15
SBC, RSL Ltd, TGSE,
EEDA, Retail Sector, Development Industry
Total amount of completed retail floorspace development not in accordance with the sequential preferences in CP2