Development Management - Proposed Submission

Representation ID: 1420

Received: 21/04/2011

Respondent: Orchard Street Investment Management LLP

Agent: Gerald Eve LLP

Legally compliant? Yes

Sound? No

Duty to co-operate? Not specified

Representation Summary:

To enable Southend town centre to remain the first preference and focus for all forms of retail development, it is essential that retail uses are complemented by supporting uses, in line with PPS6, which generate linked trips and allow shoppers to spend more time in the town centre. There to be significant opportunity to deliver new restaurants and cafés in particular.

Full text:

Orchard Street own and manage the 279,000 sq ft Royals Shopping Centre, which remains the only enclosed, climate-controlled shopping centre in Southend town centre. Since its completion in 1988 The Royals has formed an important component of the comparison retail offer of Southend; and has helped to integrate the town centre and seafront and ensure the town remains a vibrant and attractive location for comparison shopping.
Orchard Street purchased the Royals in March 2009 and is committed to the long-term future of Southend town centre. It is recognised that planning policy has a vital role to play in supporting the town centre as Southend's primary retail destination, in the face of strong competition from other centres, including the out-of-town retail park which is to be built at Fossett's Farm.

Orchard Street did not make representations to the Development Management DPD Issues And Options document when it was subject to public consultation in June- August 2010, as draft policies were not sufficiently advanced for detailed comments to be made. Moving forward, Orchard Street wish to reserve their position as to whether they appear at the inquiry for the Development Management DPD, until changes have been made to the draft document by the Council, prior to its formal submission to the Secretary of State in June 2011.

Representation - Policy DM13 - Southend-on-Sea Town Centre

Objection is raised to draft Policy DM13 that it is not adequately 'justified', as it is considered not to provide the most appropriate strategy for Southend Town Centre; and is not sufficiently 'effective' as it fails to provide adequate flexibility. As it is contended that the draft policy fails both of these tests of soundness (as identified by PPS 12: Local Spatial Planning), the policy is seen to be unsound in its current form.

The Royals and The Victoria shopping centres are enclosed shopping centres located at both ends of the High Street at the heart of Southend town centre and play an important role in anchoring the town centre's retail. Both centres have been the subject of substantial investment in recent years and have been successful in attracting national multiple brands into new units and so improving the range and quality of the town centre's retail offer.

In light of the key role that The Royals and The Victoria shopping centres have in promoting the vitality and viability of the town centre, it is essential that this is explicitly recognised by Local Development Plan policy contained in the Development Management DPD, which should define a facilitative and flexible approach to support development of both centres throughout the plan period.

The need to provide strong support for The Royals and The Victoria shopping centres within the town centre is made all the more essential in the face of direct competition from the large out-of-town retail park to be developed at Fossett's Farm, which is to provide at least 16,400 sqm of purpose built floorspace for predominantly 'town centre' retailers. This scheme at Fossett's Farm will inevitably result in some town centre retailers relocating, to benefit from the large modern units and large car park that will be provided there.

To enable Southend town centre to remain the first preference and focus for all forms of retail development, it is essential that retail uses are complemented by supporting uses which generate linked trips and allow shoppers to spend more time in the town centre. National planning policy in the form of PPS6: Planning for Town Centres, recognises (at paragraph 1.8) that a range of uses are appropriate in town centres, in addition to retail, including:

* leisure, entertainment facilities, and the more intensive sport and recreation uses (including cinemas, restaurants, drive-through restaurants, bars and pubs, night-clubs,
* casinos, health and fitness centres, indoor bowling centres, and bingo halls);
* offices, both commercial and those of public bodies; and
* arts, culture and tourism

In support of this, PPS6 (at paragraph 2.8) acknowledges that town centres can be protected from decline by securing a wider range of services and encourages local planning authorities to assess the scope for promoting the diversification of uses and improving the environment of existing centres.

Orchard Street consider there to be significant opportunity to deliver new restaurants and cafés in particular, in Southend town centre. Unlike bars and clubs, which promote the night-time economy when the shops have closed, restaurants and cafés offer shoppers the opportunity to break up their visit to the town centre and provide the ability to 'shop' and 'dine out' at a single destination and so 'link-trips'. Restaurants also present the opportunity to promote activity in the town centre once the shops have shut, but in advance of the peak hours for drinking establishments. The establishment of additional restaurants in the town centre would have the added benefit of encouraging families into the area in the evenings and thus better linking the seafront with the town centre.

In order to maintain the primacy of the town centre, it is also essential that it remains accessible by a range of transport modes. Whilst general support is expressed for the approach of draft Policy DM16 to seek to reduce use of the motor car, it is important to recognise that travel by car remains the only viable mode of transport for a number of people travelling to Southend town centre (in particular for parents with young children, the elderly and disabled and those without good access to regular bus services). Providing sufficient car parking is therefore a vital component in delivering a successful town centre, a fact made all the more important given the need to develop the evening economy of the town centre (when bus services are less frequent) and the huge number of car parking spaces that will serve the out of town retail park at Fossett's Farm. Accordingly, it is requested that Policy DM13 explicitly acknowledges the important role car parking has in the function of the town centre and prevents any net loss in public car parking spaces.