In vs Out

Posted by Property Week Retail & Leisure Supplement on 25th Apr 2014
With little development taking place over recent years, the in-town verses out-of-town retail debate has been in abeyance. Now, economic recovery has prompted developers to begin removing their schemes from mothballs, and the issue once again looks set to become a hot potato for developers, councils and the government. 

Two recent legal challenges against decisions to award planning permission to retail parks brought by the promoters of in-town schemes in Banbury and Rugby have foundered in the courts. Battle lines are being drawn in St Austell in Cornwall and Maidstone in Kent over out-of-town shopping schemes. 

Meanwhile, Northamptonshire awaits a decision for secretary of state Eric Pickles on a 465,000 sq ft retail park at Rushden Lakes that may well demonstrate exactly where the government stands in the dispute. 

The debate is taking place against a backdrop of deep and rapid change in shopping patterns as internet retailing takes up an ever-growing share of spending and great public anxiety over the growing number of vacant high street shops. 

New planning practice guidance released in March showed the coalition sticking to the "town centre first" policy that has been at the centre of planning law on retail development since 1996. It calls for planning authorities to carry out a sequential test that will "require applications for main town centre uses to be located in own centres, then in edge of centre locations, and only if suitable sites are not available should out-of-centre sites be considered."

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