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You are here: London Borough of Bromley > Interactive Unitary Development Plan > Written Statement - 11. TOWN CENTRES AND SHOPPING

11. TOWN CENTRES AND SHOPPING

 

OBJECTIVES:

  1. To support the strategic role of Bromley Town Centre as the Borough’s major shopping centre
  2. To sustain and promote the vitality and viability of town centres and ensure that the range and level of facilities are appropriate to the role and function of each centre in the hierarchy
  3. To improve the environment within town centres and shopping areas to make them safer and more attractive places
  4. To ensure that new retail and major trip generating development is located in existing centres or, where a need can be demonstrated, on edge of centre sites and only on out of centre sites that are accessible by a choice of means of transport, and in all cases do not prejudice the vitality or viability of any existing centres.
  5. To support local shopping areas by maintaining provision of local shops and services adequate to meet the day-to-day needs of all local users

STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS

11.1 Planning Policy Statement 6: “Planning for Town Centres” (March 2005) sets out the Government’s objectives for local planning authorities in relation to town centres and retailing generally. The London Plan also provides guidance on retail and leisure development and supports the sequential approach adopted in Government guidance for identifying the preferred location for retail and leisure development. The following summarises the main objectives of the planning policy statement:

• Town centres should continue to be the main focus for the provision of shopping facilities and retain a wide range of uses that are accessible to a large number of people.
• There should be a sequential approach to selecting sites for major retail and leisure development, with the priority given to existing town centres. This seeks to reverse the diversion of trade and other activities to out of centre sites.
• Local authorities should promote sustainable development and support urban regeneration.
• There should be a flexible approach towards changes of uses within district and local centres to meet the needs of local residents.

SHOPPING TRENDS

11.2 The pattern of shopping centres evolved largely before the Second World War to serve a much less mobile population. Today as lifestyles become more flexible and shoppers more discerning shopping patterns are changing. This is reflected in the growth in out-of-town retailing, e-commerce and home delivery, seven-day trading, 24-hour shopping and the increase in demand for
leisure activities. Town centres need to adjust to these new circumstances to make themselves attractive, safe, convenient and, importantly, interesting places to visit and use.

11.3 While regional shopping centres compete with comparison shopping in the larger towns, the car based accessibility of out-of-town centres and food stores can reduce the use of the main convenience function of the smaller towns. The growth in car ownership has brought about an increase in mobility and personal freedom, but around 25% of the Borough’s population do not have access to a car and are thus reliant on public transport.

LOCAL CONSIDERATIONS AND THE SHOPPING HIERARCHY

11.4 Town centres have traditionally been the focus for shopping and for community, cultural and entertainment activities. The Council wishes to ensure the future viability and vitality of town centres within the Borough. It recognises their importance in providing local residents with shops and associated facilities, their crucial role in the local economy, as a focus for public transport networks and their contribution to sustainable development objectives. This chapter therefore sets out policies addressing a wide range of issues and land uses relating to town centre functions.

11.5 The shopping hierarchy of the Borough’s established centres has evolved over a considerable period of time. The largest centre, Bromley, caters for the wider community in terms of retailing and leisure opportunities. Orpington, predominately a convenience centre serving the local community, is developing a thriving leisure economy. The district centres cater for local communities having a number of national multiples, whilst the smaller local centres and local neighbourhood centres and parades rely more on the independent trader and serve their local catchment population for day-to-day goods.

METROPOLITAN CENTRE
Bromley Town Centre
Primary & Secondary frontage designations apply
MAJOR TOWN CENTRE
Orpington
Primary & Secondary frontage designations apply
DISTRICT CENTRES
Beckenham
Penge
Petts Wood
West Wickham
Primary & Secondary frontage designations apply
LOCAL CENTRES
Biggin Hill
Chislehurst
Hayes
Locksbottom
Mottingham
Shopping frontages only apply
There are no primary and secondary designations in these centres.
Local Neighbourhood centres and parades
There are no primary and secondary designations in these centres.
Large retailing facilities located outside the
Borough's established centres

11.6 The Council wishes to retain the retailing focus of the primary frontages in the larger towns, while the designation of secondary frontages allows for diversification of uses. When applied in Bromley Town Centre and Orpington, the secondary frontage policy offers scope for a flexible approach, contributing to the Council’s objective of fostering a wider range of activities, in partnership with town centre management. Through town centre partnerships, the Council has developed town centre management initiatives to help enhance the vitality and viability of all the town centres, to assist them in remaining competitive, and to give confidence to investors and retailers.

11.7 The primary shopping frontages may be subject to change over the life of the Plan and the Council will keep them under review through regular town centre “health check” surveys.

See also: the Proposals Map, Appendix V - detailing properties designated within the Primary & Secondary frontages, District Centres Shopping frontages and Appendix VI - The Use Class Order, Policies BE4, the public realm, BE11 conservation areas & BE21 control of advertisements hoardings and signs.

 

BROMLEY AND ORPINGTON TOWN CENTRES AND DISTRICT CENTRES

PRIMARY FRONTAGES

POLICY S1

In primary retail frontages, as defined on the Proposals Map, the Council will only permit changes of use from retail (Class A1) to other uses where the proposal would:

(i) not harm the retail character of the shopping frontage;
(ii) generate significant pedestrian visits during shopping hours;
(iii) complement the shopping function of the town centre;
(iv) not create a concentration of similar uses; and
(v) have no adverse impact on residential amenity.

Proposals for a Class A3, A4 or A5 use will also have to comply with Policy S9.

11.8 Primary and secondary frontage designations will apply only in Bromley Town Centre, Beckenham, Orpington, Penge, Petts Wood, and West Wickham. These towns have the largest established concentrations of retail activity in the Borough and the primary area policy has been designed to ensure that a concentration of retailing activity remains within main shopping areas of these larger centres.

11.9 The Council recognises that to ensure these shopping centres remain vibrant, a diversity of uses that complement the retail function is necessary. Non-retail uses within Classes A2, A3, A4 and A5 can generate high levels of pedestrian activity and may be appropriate complementary uses, provided that the retail function of the centre is not undermined.

See also: Policies BE19 – Shopfronts, BE20– Shutters and Appendix V – shopping frontages

SECONDARY FRONTAGES

POLICY S2

In secondary retail frontages, as defined on the Proposals Map, the Council will permit changes of use from retail (Class A1) to other uses provided that:

(i) the use provides a service that complements the shopping function of the town centre; and
(ii) there is no adverse impact on residential amenity.

Proposals for a Class A3, A4 or A5 use will also have to comply with Policy S9

Proposals for residential, workshop or office use, on the edge of town centres, will also have to comply with Policy S10 (non-retail use) or Policy S11 (residential accommodation).

11.10 PPS6 recognises that town centres have a wider role to play than simply retailing. The secondary areas are therefore seen as locations where a more flexible approach can be taken towards non-retail uses, as well as community uses and health facilities.

See also: Policies BE19 – Shopfronts, BE20– Shutters and Appendix V – shopping frontages

 

THE GLADES

POLICY S3

Within The Glades Shopping Centre the Council will permit the change of use from retail (Class A1) use to professional & financial services (Class A2) or restaurants and cafes (Class A3), drinking establishments (Class A4), and hot food takeaways (Class A5), provided that the centre’s primary retail function is not adversely affected.

11.11 Whilst the High Street remains the focus for most of the town’s retailing, The Glades represents a very important element in the retailing success of Bromley Town Centre. With over 125 shops it provides the town with approximately 39,000 sq.m of additional retail floorspace.

LOCAL CENTRES

POLICY S4

Within identified retail frontages of local centres, change of use from Class A1 (shops) to other uses will be permitted provided that the proposal would:

(i) not harm the retail character of the shopping frontage;
(ii) have no adverse impact on residential amenity;
(iii) would not create a concentration of similar uses;
(iv) attract visitors during shopping hours; and
(v) complement the shopping function of the centre.

Uses within Classes A3 (Restaurants and Cafes), A4 (Drinking Establishments) and A5 (Hot Food Takeaways) will also have to comply with Policy S9.

Proposals for changes of use from Class A1 (Shops) outside the designated retail frontages to other uses will be permitted provided that it can be demonstrated that there has been a long term vacancy and a lack of demand for a retail use.

11.12 For the purposes of this policy, the frontage is defined as the ground floor area of a building within a retail frontage. The main function of these centres is to provide an adequate range of shops and services to meet the needs of local communities. This is particularly important for those without a car or those who are unable, through age or infirmity, to reach the larger centres. Non-retail uses may be considered appropriate to meet a wider range of needs and to prevent long-term vacancy (which undermines the character of the area), but only if the retailing function of the centre is not threatened.

See also: Policies BE19 – Shopfronts, BE20 – Shutters and Appendix V - shopping frontages

 

LOCAL NEIGHBOURHOOD CENTRES, PARADES AND INDIVIDUAL SHOPS

POLICY S5

In local neighbourhood centres and shopping parades change of use from Class A1 (Shops) to other uses will be permitted provided that:

(i) the use proposed contributes to the range of local services or the provision of local community facilities: and contributes to the vitality of the centre by providing a service or attracting visitors during shopping hours; or
(ii) it can be demonstrated that there has been a long term vacancy and a lack of demand for Class A1 (Shops) use, as well as a lack of demand for service or community use before other uses are proposed.

This policy applies also to proposals for change of use of individual retail premises.

11.13 The Borough has a large number of these smaller shopping areas, which vary in size and in the range of shops and services available. The main function of these areas is to provide the day-to-day needs of local residents, especially those who are less mobile. The Council places a high priority on protecting A1 retail uses particularly local convenience shops.

11.14 The Council recognises, however, that it may not be possible to retain all shops in the long term: a limited number of non-retail uses, such as those that serve the community, may therefore be considered appropriate where units have been vacant for a significant period of time and have no reasonable prospect of being let for a retail use. In these circumstances, however, applicants would need to be able to demonstrate that the vacant premises have been appropriately marketed for retail use.

See also: Policies BE19 – Shopfronts, BE20 – Shutters, C1- Community Facilities & C4 –Health Facilities and Appendix V - shopping frontages

 

RETAIL AND LEISURE DEVELOPMENT

POLICY S6

Proposals for retail or leisure development on sites identified in the Schedule of Proposal Sites or within town centres, district centres, local centres or neighbourhood centres and parades will be permitted provided that:

(i) the scale of the proposal will be appropriate to the size of the centre within which it is to be located, and;
(ii) it will not harm the viability or vitality of other nearby centres, either by itself or in conjunction with other proposals.

POLICY S7

Proposals for new or extension to existing retail or leisure development outside the centres to which Policy S6 relates will be expected to meet the following criteria:

(i) there is a need for the proposal;
(ii) all potential sites within the town, district, local or neighbourhood centres and parades have been thoroughly assessed, followed by an assessment of edge of centre sites within easy walking distance of the primary shopping area; and
(iii) the applicant can demonstrate that they have been flexible about the format, scale, design, car park provision and the scope for disaggregation in the sequential search for sites

If the sequential test above is met the proposal will be expected to:

(iv) be easily accessible to those cycling or walking and is, or will be, well served by public transport;
(v) not harm the vitality or viability of existing centres, either by itself or in conjunction with other proposals; and
(vi) the scale of the proposal will be appropriate to the size of the centre within which it is to be located.

11.15 Large-scale retail and leisure developments can be major generators of travel and should therefore be located where there is easy and convenient access by a choice of means of transport. For this reason, and to sustain and enhance town centres, the Council wishes to direct such major development towards existing town centres. The sequential approach, to site selection will be applied when considering the location of any new retail or leisure proposals. The onus will be on the developer to demonstrate why edge or out-of-centre proposals cannot be located within an existing centre.

11.16 Proposals for major development in either edge or out of centre location and which do not accord with the up-to-date development plan, will be required to demonstrate need. This is unlikely to be fulfilled simply by showing that there is physical capacity or demand (in terms of available expenditure). Although need can also be expressed in qualitative terms, greater weight will be placed on quantitative need for new retail provision. The Council will consider the significance of these factors in relation to any particular proposal and the likely impact on the vitality and viability of nearby town centres including centres outside the Borough and the desire to retain a range of local shopping and service facilities in small centres and parades.

11.17 It is considered that there is sufficient scope within many of the Borough’s town centres for accommodating additional retail or leisure floorspace by way of converting, upgrading or refurbishing existing town centre buildings or through site assembly. The Council, therefore, considers that to protect previous investment, and to safeguard their viability and diversity, town centres should remain the main focus for retail and leisure developments in the Borough. One out-of-centre site has been granted outline planning permission for a mixed use scheme, including non-food retail warehousing (Nugent Estate, Sevenoaks Way). In accordance with the sequential test set out in the policy, if the need for additional non-food retail warehousing floorspace is demonstrated, then applicants will need to show that need cannot be met in town centres, edge-of-centre or the other out-of-centre sites.

11.18 Proposals for new retail development should be flexible in terms of their format, design, scale and parking requirements in order to maintain an efficient, competitive and innovative retail sector.

See also: Policy T1

 

PETROL FILLING STATIONS

POLICY S8

Alterations to and the redevelopment of existing petrol filling stations and the development of new petrol filling stations will generally be acceptable provided that:

(i) there would be no unacceptable effect on the surrounding environment and amenity of adjoining uses;
(ii) any associated shopping, food and drink uses, mini-cab offices or other facilities, comply with the relevant policies in the Plan;
(iii) the proposal would not create an unacceptable impact on the vitality or viability of the local parade or neighbourhood centre;
(iv) adequate servicing, parking and access arrangements are included and laid out to allow the safe movement of pedestrians and cyclists particularly where shopping or other associated facilities are provided; and
(v) the proposal would not have an unacceptable effect on traffic flow or safety.

11.19 New petrol filling stations and alterations to existing petrol filling stations need to be carefully assessed to avoid unacceptable impact on local amenity and general environment, including the possibility of contamination of the local soil or watercourses. Privacy, accessibility, security, noise and fumes from traffic are all considerations that need to be taken into account.

11.20 The potential impact of any proposed retail uses will be of particular concern and the relevant policies will apply.

See also Policies ER6, ER7 and ER14

FOOD & DRINK PREMISES

POLICY S9

The Council will only permit proposals for additional restaurants and cafes (Class A3), drinking establishments (Class A4) and hot food takeaways (Class A5) where:

(i) the proposal would have no adverse impact on residential amenity;
(ii) the proposal would not cause undue traffic congestion or be detrimental to the safety of other road users and pedestrians;
(iii) the proposal would not result in an over concentration of food and drink establishments, out of character with the retailing function of the area; and
(iv) where appropriate, the proposal does not conflict with Policies S1, S2, S4 or S5.

11.21 The leisure and evening economy has seen one of the largest growth areas in recent years and provides an opportunity for diversification of the range of activities in existing centres. Although a wide range of uses is encouraged, the primary purpose of the town centres is for shopping – the preservation of their retailing function is a major objective. Whilst food and drink establishments attract visitors in the evening they also provide the opportunity to combine shopping with eating and drinking, adding to the prosperity and vitality of a centre. Such establishments also offer employment opportunities for local people.

11.22 The secondary areas in Bromley and Orpington are considered the most appropriate areas in which to encourage such establishments, with the scope for accommodating a wide range of premises catering for visitors of all ages. The Council recognises, however, that such uses can result in increases in traffic, noise, smells, or a general reduction in the quality of the environment, and the overriding consideration will be the protection of local residential amenity. The Council will also seek to ensure that they do not predominate to the detriment of the shopping function of the centre.

See also: Policies BE19 – Shopfronts, BE20 – Shutters and ER9 – Ventilation

 

NON-RETAIL USES IN SHOPPING AREAS

POLICY S10

In retail frontages the Council will not normally permit uses that do not offer a service to visitors unless:

(i) there has been long term vacancy and a lack of demand for a retail or service use can be proven; and
(ii) the proposed use is in premises where it would not undermine the retail viability of the centre.

11.23 The Council recognises that to ensure these shopping centres remain vibrant, a diversity of uses that complement the retail function is necessary. Non-retail uses within Classes A2, A3, A4 and A5 can generate high levels of pedestrian activity and may be appropriate complementary uses, provided that the retail function of the centre is not undermined.

RESIDENTIAL ACCOMMODATION

POLICY S11

The Council will only permit the change of use of ground floor premises in shopping areas to residential uses where:

(i) the proposed use would not undermine the retail vitality and viability of the centre;
(ii) the proposal would result in accommodation suitable for residential use; and
(iii) there has been long term vacancy and no demand for a commercial or community use.

11.24 While commercial uses (A1, A2, A3, A4, A5 or B1) offering employment and community opportunities are preferred to residential in these areas, residential uses will be considered in peripheral areas where there is long term vacancy and/or no reasonable prospect of a letting for a commercial or community use.

11.25 Changes of use of upper floors to residential will be welcomed as it can contribute to the stock of affordable accommodation and the presence of residents can help as a deterrent to crime.

MARKETS

POLICY S12

The Council will seek to ensure the continuance of existing markets in the Borough, and encourage proposals for new markets but only where:

(i) there would be no adverse disturbance to residential amenities; and
(ii) adequate access is provided for servicing.

11.26 Markets can help create diversity by adding vitality and character to existing shopping centres. Additional proposals for retail markets should take account of the Council’s town centre strategy, which is primarily designed to improve the shopping services within the Borough, by directing new investment towards existing centres.

MINI CAB AND TAXI OFFICES

POLICY S13

The Council will only permit proposals for mini-cab or taxi offices where:

(i) there is no adverse impact on residential amenity;
(ii) the proposal will not cause undue traffic congestion or be detrimental to the safety of other road users and pedestrians; and
(iii) the proposal will not conflict with other policies in the plan

11.27 The Council recognises that mini cab and taxi offices perform a valuable transport service which complements the town centres main retail function. Given the move towards more flexible policies which will allow the growth of the evening economy, particularly in the secondary frontages of the larger town centres, such services encourage the dispersal of visitors more efficiently.

See also: Policy S10 – Non retail uses in shopping areas

 

PEDESTRIAN ENVIRONMENT

POLICY S14

The Council will seek to improve the pedestrian environment in all town centres.

11.28 The continued vitality and viability of all town centres is strongly influenced by the condition of the physical environment. Planning obligations associated with new development will be sought to provide for improvements to the public realm.

 

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