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Flintshire County Council Unitary Development Plan 2000-2015
Adopted 28th September 2011

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Chapter 12

Shopping Centres and Commercial Development

Relevant Strategic Aims

b. Social and welfare

Policy Objectives
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Policy List
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  1. SHOPPING CENTRES - to promote the vitality, viability and attractiveness of existing retail centres
  2. CHOICE - to promote a range of shopping facilities within town centres
  3. LOCATION - to direct new shopping and commercial investment into town centres
  4. LOCAL SHOPS - to promote new shops and retain existing shops within residential estates and villages
  5. RURAL SHOPS - to support rural diversification

S1 Commercial Allocations

S2 Shop-front Design

S3 Integrating New Commercial Development

S4 Small Scale Shopping Within Settlements

S5 Small Scale Shopping Outside Settlements

S6 Large Shopping Developments

S7 Retail Frontages Within Town Centre Core Retail Areas

S8 Hot Food Takeaways, Restaurants and Cafes

S9 Non-Retail Commercial Development

S10 Conversion of Upper Floors

S11 Retention of Local Facilities

S12 Markets and Car Boot Sales

Indicators of Policy Performance

Targets

  1. Area of floorspace of new retail development located in town centres
  2. Change of use from shops granted contrary to policy
  3. Availability/loss of village shops/post offices/pubs
  4. Town centre health checks

TARGET 8: 85% of new retail floorspace located in and around town, district and local centres

 

12 Shopping Centres and Commercial Development

Introduction

12.1 The diversity of activities seen in town and district centres reflects their cultural and social as well as commercial functions and represents a considerable capital investment in the built environment. Retail activity in particular has been an important factor in shaping town centres and acting as a catalyst for the development of other services and facilities. This gives each town a distinctive character. In addition to shopping this chapter considers the whole range of activities carried out in a town centre such as eating out, launderettes, financial and professional services, and leisure uses including cinemas, bingo halls or amusement arcades.

12.2 The vitality and viability of many town centres is currently under significant pressure. Vitality describes how busy a shopping area is and viability refers to its ability to attract continued investment. The ability of existing centres to continue to serve the interests of the whole community in the long term must not be undermined by new retail developments elsewhere. However there is now growing evidence that larger out of town shopping centres, dependent predominantly upon access by car, are having a damaging impact on traditional shopping centres. This has resulted in the closure of shops and the consequent deterioration in the physical condition of buildings and the street scene. Out of town shopping facilities increase car travel, use up natural resources and cause greater pollution levels. Such developments also frequently involve the development of greenfield sites on the outskirts of towns or adjacent to large road junctions.

 

National Planning Policy

12.3 Planning Policy Wales (PPW) states that the most appropriate location for retail, and other compensatory uses are within town, district, local and village centres. This approach of focusing such uses within established shopping centres enhances the vitality, attractiveness and viability of these centres. Maximising the density of development also increases the potential to encourage accessible shopping centres, pedestrian journeys and linked trips.

12.4 PPW requires Local Planning Authorities to develop a clear strategy and policies for retail development, and for the future of town, district, local and village centres to promote a successful retailing sector supporting existing communities and services. Specifically PPW requires UDPs to:

12.5 PPW also advocates a sequential test to be applied to all new retail development. In proposing new retail allocations the issue of retail need has been considered and it will be an equally important future consideration to ensure that planning applications for new retail development are also assessed against the need for the development. Whilst not precluding out-of-centre developments, the sequential test requires developers to look first at locations within the town centre. Development which cannot be accommodated in the town centre should be located as close as possible to it and on sites which are accessible by public transport. In addition to these objectives it is important for the Planning Authority to promote redevelopment, extension and modernisation within existing town centres and to follow a clear strategy of town centre improvement and proactive management.

 

Flintshire Context

12.6 The main towns within the Plan area have relatively small shopping catchment populations which overlap. They compete both for food and comparison goods retail, with larger centres outside the Plan area. A study of the vitality of the key centres in 2002 indicated that vacancy rates in Mold, Buckley, Shotton, Flint, Holywell, Connah’s Quay and Queensferry had decreased possibly as a result of a buoyant national retailing economy and growing confidence in the economy of Flintshire. However despite a resurgence in the fortunes of town and district centres the shopping strategy of the Plan will continue to focus investment into existing shopping centres and to resist the development of peripheral sites.

12.7 This chapter also contains policies that support small scale retail proposals on residential estates, within villages and that are ancillary to rural enterprises such as farm shops or craft workshops. These facilities may play a crucial role in providing services or employment in less accessible areas.

 

Policies

S1 Retail and Commercial Allocations

The following land is allocated for commercial development and is identified on the proposals map:-

 

Ref.

Settlement

Site

Area

(ha)

Town and District Centres

1

Buckley

Land adjacent Brunswick Road to be developed primarily for A1 retail.

0.2

2

Connah’s Quay

Land to the rear of Connah’s Quay Precinct to be developed as a mixed use scheme.

1.3

3

Mold

Land to the South of Chester Road, Mold to be developed primarily for non-food A1 retail.

0.7

Outside Town or District Centres, but not in the Countryside

4

Connah’s Quay

Land adjacent Ffordd Llanarth Shopping Centre.

2.4

5

Flint

Croes Atti, Flint primarily an A1 retail development as part of mixed use allocation of Croes Atti.

0.3

Other Locations

6

Broughton

Land North of Broughton Retail Park to be developed for non-retail commercial use.

1.8

 

Key Shopping Centres in Flintshire

Town Centres

District Centres

Local Centres

  • Buckley
  • Flint
  • Holywell
  • Mold
  • Shotton
  • Connah’s Quay
  • Queensferry
  • Saltney
  • Bagillt – High Street
  • Broughton – Broughton Hall Road
  • Buckley – Lane End
  • Caergwrle – village centre
  • Caerwys – village centre
  • Connah’s Quay – Thornfield Avenue
  • Connah’s Quay – Englefield Ave
  • Connah’s Quay – Ffordd Llanarth
  • Ewloe – The Highway
  • Ewloe – Holywell Road
  • Flint – Northop Road
  • Garden City – Welsh Road
  • Greenfield – Parade
  • Hawarden – village centre
  • Holywell - Holway
  • Hope – village centre
  • Mostyn – Maes Pennant
  • Mynydd Isa – The Square
  • Penyffordd / Penymynydd – village centre
  • Shotton – Aston Park Road
  • Shotton – Central Drive

 

12.8 Given the relatively small catchment population of each town and the existing level of shopping provision, the opportunities for expanding retail provision are limited; indeed further retail development could have an adverse impact on some existing centres. However for shopping centres such as Connah’s Quay there are important regeneration issues which require new development to improve the vitality and viability of these centres. Such new development in these centres would increase the range and quality of goods on offer to the public and would see physical improvements to the centres which would make for more attractive centres to investment and consumers. The most modern centre of retail investment in the County is Broughton Retail Park (BRP) which makes a significant contribution to the retail offer of Flintshire. However, BRP is not listed in the Key Shopping Centres figure since it is considered to be an out of town retail park and is therefore a less favourable location for new retail development than traditional town and district centres.

12.9 The mixed use development at Croes Atti, Flint is intended to be an exemplary development which will reflect current best practice standards of urban design and development. The core of the development will consist of 637 new houses on the edge of Flint. To minimise the need to travel and to encourage ‘walkable neighbourhoods’ it is an important aspect of the development to provide local facilities onsite, including a new local shopping facility. The precise layout and design of the new shopping area is set out in a comprehensive development brief for the Croes Atti site and within a masterplan. Considering the need to maintain a degree of flexibility within the emerging design of the Croes Atti development a specific retail allocation will not be made for the new shopping facility beyond the designation of Croes Atti for housing development.

 

S2 Shop-front Design

New or replacement frontages for all commercial premises and shops within town and district centre boundaries will be permitted only where the proposal is sensitive to the architectural design and style of the immediate and adjacent buildings or, where these do not reflect good design, of those in the locality.

12.10 This policy seeks to promote good design within all new commercial properties including shops, banks, building societies, public houses, offices and restaurants, as well as replacement frontages, within the defined town and district centre boundaries. Of the commercial centres in Flintshire, those at Mold, Flint and Holywell have designated conservation areas and have their own particular character and appeal which will be protected through the conservation area policies of the Plan and supplementary guidance. New development should reflect the distinctive features of a town and comply with the "Shop-fronts and their Advertisements" Design Guide for which a supplementary planning guidance note will be produced during the Plan period; this will require that the character of the building be safeguarded together with its traditional architectural features. New developments should respect their setting, particularly as some shops within the Plan area are located in conservation areas.

12.11 Security features such as shutters, cameras, alarms or bollards should not be intrusive and not detract from the visual appearance of town centres. For example shutters should be painted and of a perforated design, enabling shop windows to be viewed at night and allowing light to pass through to the street. Solid steel external shutters will not generally be permitted.

12.12 Town and district centres in the Plan area have an attractive character and can be adversely impacted upon by shop-front advertisements which can be particularly intrusive. The cumulative impact of insensitively designed advertisements can soon lead to a deterioration in the quality of the shopping centre environment, which in turn affects the attractiveness of the centre to consumers and investors.

 

Other key policies:

 

S3 Integrating New Commercial Development

All commercial proposals will be expected to pay full regard to the design policies of the Plan and will be required to make specific reference to the siting of buildings and building entrances to ensure the provision of safe and convenient access for users and to enhance the surrounding commercial environment. Where appropriate the developer will also be required to:

  1. site the proposed development within easy walking distance of existing commercial developments and other facilities;
  2. provide building entrances in locations which relate best to existing commercial developments, other facilities and pedestrian routes; and
  3. if relevant, provide car parking to the rear of the development.

12.13 It is the aim of the development plan to reduce the need to travel and to promote more sustainable forms of transport. This aim has significant relevance to commercial development, particularly retail development where the proximity of the store to local points of access, to transport interchange facilities, and to other stores is a major consideration in encouraging linked trips, and to creating and maintaining complementary retail districts. An added consideration when determining planning applications will be to ensure developments are designed well to serve the needs of the pedestrians and cyclists so that access to and from the development is safe, convenient and well related to nearby commercial developments.

 

Other key policies:

S4 Small Scale Shopping Within Settlements

New small scale shopping development will be permitted provided that outside town and district centres:-

  1. it is below 300sqm gross or, in exceptional circumstances, up to 500sqm;
  2. it is to meet local everyday needs and relates to the role, scale and character of the centre and the community it is intended to serve; and
  3. it is located within or adjacent to a local or village centre or, if no sites are available within the nearest centre, it is within the settlement boundary and accessible by a variety of means of transport.

12.14 Local shops are a vital ingredient of community life both in villages and in housing areas located at some distance from central facilities. To minimise the need to travel, shops seeking to meet the local everyday needs of the local community should be located within existing local and village centres. In such centres the effect of clustering retail uses is aimed at widening choice to meet the needs of the community. To ensure new stores are of an appropriate small scale to meet the local everyday needs of the community, policies will seek to limit the size of stores to around 300 square metres (gross). In exceptional circumstances, where there is a demonstrable need, it will be appropriate to permit slightly larger stores (up to 500 sq. metres gross) to meet the needs of the local community.

12.15 Outside of local and village centres, but still within the settlement boundary, local shops could be provided in association with large new housing developments within urban areas, such as the allocation at Croes Atti, Flint, or to make up a deficiency on existing housing estates.

 

S5 Small Scale Shopping Outside Settlements

New retail proposals outside settlement boundaries will be permitted provided that the development is:

  1. no more than 100 sq. m. in gross floorspace;
  2. run in conjunction with the operation of an existing agricultural, horticultural or rural craft business;
  3. for the sale of goods of which a significant proportion are produced or manufactured on the premises; and
  4. not detrimental to the viability of existing village shops.

12.16 The purpose of this policy is to encourage rural diversification by giving some flexibility for small scale retailing in the rural area. The policy would cover farm shops and specialist enterprises associated with the manufacture of rural crafts. Small scale is defined as being less than 100 square metres in gross retail floor space area, sufficient in area for the type of specialist shop envisaged. New proposals which are considered likely to damage the viability of existing village shops will be refused. The Council may seek to impose conditions to restrict the scale and type of goods sold to allow development to take place.

12.17 This policy is designed to apply to both shop and cafe uses in the open countryside in conjunction with a farm or craft business. Shops selling only goods produced on the farm or rural business are ancillary to the pre-existing use and do not require planning permission. Where shops sell a greater amount of goods produced elsewhere, planning permission will be required. However, the policy seeks to ensure that a significant proportion of goods sold are produced or manufactured on the premises.

 

Other key policies:

 

S6 Large Shopping Developments

Proposals for large shopping developments in excess of 500 square metres should be located within town, district and/or local centres. Where it is satisfactorily demonstrated that the proposal cannot be accomodated within an existing centre and/or is out of scale with the shopping centre, the proposed development should be located on a sequentially preferable edge of centre site. Out-of-centre developments will only be considered appropriate where there is no sequentially preferable, suitable and available site nearer to a town, district or local centres. In all cases such developments will be permitted only where:

  1. it is not directly, or when considered together with any other committed schemes, detrimental to the vitality, attractiveness and viability of existing town, district, or local centres within the development's catchment area;
  2. the site is within the settlement boundary;
  3. the site has been evaluated and found to be appropriate in accordance with the sequential approach where first preference should be given to town centre locations followed by edge of centre sites then by district and local centres and only then out of centre locations;
  4. the site is located conveniently to minimise users’ dependence on private transport and to maximise the potential for journeys by foot, cycle and public transport;
  5. the development would not, through the generation of traffic, have an a significant adverse impact upon the local highway network or the quality of the local environment; and
  6. outside defined town centres a need for the proposal has been demonstrated.

12.18 The objective of this policy is to enhance the vitality, viability and attractiveness of existing centres by only permitting out-of-centre retail development in appropriate locations and circumstances. An out-of-centre location is defined as a site clearly separate from a town centre but not outside the settlement boundary. Outside of settlement boundaries in out of town locations there will be a presumption against proposals for large shopping development unless there exist sufficient material considerations to justify an exception from the policy.

12.19 The Plan's retail strategy seeks to improve shopping facilities within existing centres, concentrating new development within them in order to stimulate economic activity and prevent town centre uses from concentrating elsewhere. Given the relatively small catchment population of each town and the existing level of shopping provision, the opportunities for expanding outside town centres without affecting existing shopping provision are very limited. Consideration will also need to be given to the possible effect of shopping proposals already granted planning permission and expected to be implemented within a three year period.

12.20 Under this policy, developers will need to demonstrate that they have examined the suitability and availability of sites in accordance with the sequential approach. If no appropriate sites can be found within town, district or local centres, then edge-of-centre sites which are within easy walking distance of the town centre (i.e. within 200 - 300 metres) will be the preferred location for new retail development. Where edge of centre locations are chosen it will be expected that the developer clearly shows how the new development will link in with the existing centre to optimise opportunities for walking and cycling and linked trips. Out-of-centre developments will be assessed against this strategy. It must be clearly established that retail proposals outside an identified shopping centre by virtue of their scale, type and location will not adversely affect the commercial viability, attractiveness and vitality of existing town, district and local centres. The use of vacant or under-used land will be preferred to greenfield sites. Proposals should be located within the settlement boundary and close to main bus routes to enable ease of access by non-car users. As retail proposals are generators of substantial volumes of traffic, they will be assessed on the ability of the surrounding highway network to satisfactorily accommodate them and their impact on overall car travel. All applications for retail developments over 2,500 square metres gross floorspace should be supported by a retail impact assessment which addresses the above issues.

12.21 Where the applicant is successful in demonstrating a lack of sequentially preferable sites, large shopping developments may be permitted outside identified centres, particularly where it entails the sale of bulky goods which cannot be accommodated within an existing centre. However large scale retail proposals outside settlement boundaries would conflict with the strategy of protecting town, district and local centres and will be resisted in accordance with the policies in this chapter.

 

Other key policies:

 

S7 Retail Frontages Within Town Centre Core Retail Areas

Within town centre core retail areas, as designated on the proposals map, proposals for retail uses will be permitted. Non A1 development or changes of use of shops will be permitted only where:

  1. the total non-shop frontage on any continuous street frontage remains less than 25%; and
  2. the proposal does not result in two or more adjacent units being in non-shop use; or
  3. the proposal is for the conversion of an upper floor to an appropriate use; or
  4. the shop has been advertised at a reasonable price for sale or lease in its existing use for a period of at least one year without success.

12.22 Core retail areas delineate the primary shopping area where retail development is encouraged and non A1 development is controlled to ensure the availability of premises for retailing. This policy approach seeks to concentrate retail activity in the core of the town centre at high densities to achieve a critical mass of retailing where each store enhances the value of its neighbour and in turn benefits from a mixture of surrounding complementary uses. For the local community the presence of a successful and competitive shopping environment is vital for maintaining an attractive centre of investment and employment creation and for meeting the shopping needs of the community in terms of both the quality and the range of goods.

12.23 For the purposes of this policy shops are defined as being those uses which fall within Class A1 of the Use Classes Order 1987. Class A1 uses include the types of shop commonly found in a high street, ranging from shoe shops to post offices. This policy is designed to prevent other commercial uses such as banks and offices from locating in a core retail area and displacing shops to more peripheral locations to the detriment of the attraction of the town centre as a place to shop.

12.24 Shop frontage will be measured in metres rather than the number of A1 units within a street frontage, along one side of a street and unbroken by vehicular highways, note under this policy narrow accesses between properties are not considered to break up the retail frontage. Conversions of the upper floors of shops are an exception to this policy, being considered instead under policy S10 below.

12.25 In situations where a property has been vacant for a period of at least one year and has been advertised for sale or lease, a non-A1 use would be allowed to prevent any deterioration in the physical appearance of the street scene.

 

S8 Hot Food Takeaways, Restaurants and Cafes

Proposals for new establishments or for the change of use of existing establishments to sell hot food for the consumption both on or off the premises will be permitted where they meet the following criteria:

  1. the amenity of local residents, including residents living above the property, is not unduly harmed;
  2. on-site provision is made for the disposal of casual litter and wastes; and
  3. the use will not result in traffic hazards or disturbance arising from street parking.

12.26 Hot food shops, restaurants and cafes are appropriate uses within town, district and local centres complementing existing uses and enhancing the service choice available to the public. Such uses are also important to the evening economies of existing centres complementing the range of public houses and clubs present. While proposals for these uses will be encouraged within shopping centres it will be important to ensure they do not jeopardise the health and viability of the shopping centre. In particular it will be important for proposals to consider their impact on residents in upper floor dwellings.

12.27 Outside of designated shopping centres, proposals for hot food takeaways, restaurants and cafes will be carefully treated to ensure the amenity of residents is protected. All proposals will be expected to minimise disturbance and be sensitive to the needs of neighbouring land uses. Specifically, proposals for hot food takeaways, restaurants and cafes in or near residential areas will close no later than 2300 hours during the week, no later than 2330 on a Friday and Saturday, and no later than 2200 on a Sunday.

12.28 In appropriate circumstances the Council will consider restricting the use of a building to the specific use applied for and will remove Permitted Development Rights to move from A3 to other uses (A1 and A2). This action will only be taken where there is a need to protect residential amenity and the integrity of shopping centres.

 

S9 Non-Retail Commercial Development

With the exception of ground floor premises within town centre core retail areas, non-retail commercial development will be permitted within the remaining area of town centres, within district centres and within local centres, provided that:

  1. the development would be on a scale appropriate to the locality and would not detract from the overall character and appearance of the area;
  2. the development would not have a detrimental impact upon the shopping centre; and
  3. the development would not be significantly detrimental to local residential amenities.

12.29 Offices have an important role to play in providing local services and opportunities for employment. These often need to be accessible to large numbers of people, both employees and visitors, and are therefore best located within shopping centre boundaries where they are convenient and accessible to non-car users. However, non-retail uses should not be allowed to dominate core retail areas as this can undermine the retail function of a town centre and core retail areas. Non-retail uses in such areas are dealt with in policy S7. Additionally, offices and other commercial development can detract from the character and highway safety of residential areas. The criteria in the policy are designed to ensure that there are no detrimental effects of such development.

 

Other key policies:

 

S10 Conversion of Upper Floors

The conversion of upper floors of town and district centre properties to other uses will be permitted provided that:

  1. where private parking space is required, but unable to be provided on-site, the conversion is able to make use of public car parking;
  2. the operation of the ground floor use would not be adversely affected by the proposed development; and
  3. in the case of residential conversions, adequate residential amenity can be assured.

12.30 The upper floors of many town and district centre properties are vacant or not used to their full potential. The intention of the Council is to make the most of upper floors and it will encourage the conversion of such spaces to offices or dwellings and other appropriate uses for example cafes or hairdressers. Utilising upper floors is a key consideration for maintaining the health and viability of town centres offering the potential to bring more people into the town centre, reduce crime and improve safety, improve the condition of buildings and help create a more vibrant retail core.

12.31 Where car parking is required in connection with any development it must be provided in accordance with the parking standards adopted by the County Council. However, the requirement to provide car parking spaces in town centre locations may be relaxed where sufficient and appropriate public car parking is available.

 

Other key policies:

 

S11 Retention of Local Facilities

Development which will lead to the loss of a shop, post office or public house or other building which performs a social as well as an economic role will be permitted only where:

  1. similar facilities exist in the neighbourhood or village which are equally as conveniently accessible to local residents; or
  2. where this is not the case, the property has been advertised at a reasonable price for sale or lease in its existing use for a period of at least one year without success.

12.32 Existing facilities are important in community life, especially where local people may not have easy access to any alternatives. The need to travel for local residents can be minimised by retaining provision of facilities within new housing areas or villages through careful consideration of applications for the conversion of shops, post offices and public houses to other uses. This policy seeks to retain such facilities but recognises that some are closed out of economic necessity and prove difficult to sell or let.

12.33 A period of at least one year is required for the marketing of local facilities to ensure that every reasonable attempt has been made to retain the use for the benefit of the community. It will be a matter for the applicant to prove through the use of evidence submitted to the Local Authority that: a comprehensive and sustained marketing exercise offering the local facility as a going concern, has been undertaken; that the marketing exercise has run for a continuous period of at least one year before the planning application is submitted; and that the facility has been offered for sale or lease locally, and in the region, in appropriate publications.

 

S12 Markets and Car Boot Sales

Outside town and district centres proposals for new retail markets, car boot sales or the extension of existing markets will only be permitted where:

  1. it can be established that the market will not adversely affect the overall viability of existing town centres or existing street markets;
  2. the market is not open for more than two days a week;
  3. sufficient car parking spaces and operational space on an existing suitable surface are provided within the boundaries of the market to cater for the vehicles of shoppers and stall holders;
  4. the development would not adversely affect the amenity of neighbouring occupiers through noise, odours, litter, on street parking or delivery vehicles; and
  5. permission is limited to a temporary consent to allow the effects of the development to be monitored.

12.34 Town centre markets in Flint, Mold and Holywell make an important contribution to the range of shopping available and bring more shoppers into the towns. However, new open-air markets outside town centres could severely affect the viability of existing shops or existing markets in the Plan area and therefore they will generally not be acceptable in other locations. Their operation can cause traffic congestion and their introduction in areas outside town centres will be resisted under this policy unless proposals clearly comply with the criteria listed in the policy. In particular large new market proposals outside settlement boundaries are unlikely to be appropriate in the Plan area.

12.35 The same considerations would apply to car boot sales if they were to become permanent. Both types of operation can be carried out for 28 days a year without the need for planning permission.

12.36 It should also be ensured that the development does not cause nuisance or adversely affect the amenity of neighbouring occupiers through noise, odours, litter, on street parking or delivery vehicles.

 

Other key policies:

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