Waveney Local Plan

New Town Centre Use Development

213 Beccles Town Centre New Units8.88 The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that town centres are the preferred location for the development of retail (including financial and professional services), leisure (including, restaurants, drinking establishments, takeaways, cinemas, theatres and other buildings used for leisure), offices, tourism and cultural and community uses. The Framework states that Local Plans should meet the assessed need for these town centre uses in full.

8.89 The Framework sets out a sequential approach to the development of Town Centre uses where development should be considered on town centre sites before edge of centre sites and finally out of centre sites. The framework states that Local Plans should allocate land to meet needs in town centres and if that is not possible, edge of centre sites and finally set policies for meeting needs in other accessible out of centre locations which are well connected to the town centre.

8.90 The Retail and Leisure Needs Assessment identifies a need for 6,946sqm of non-food retail development and 1,564sqm for food store retail development over the plan period once existing commitments have been taken into account. The assessment also identifies the need for new leisure development including a multiplex cinema in Lowestoft, new restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments in all town centres, and increased hotel provision in Lowestoft and Beccles. For retail and leisure development Policy WLP1.1 Scale and Location of Development focuses most development in Lowestoft and Beccles, with smaller amounts in Halesworth, Bungay and Southwold. Some of the need in Lowestoft could be accommodated on the Battery Green site allocated under Policy WLP2.7 and the Peto Square site allocated under Policy WLP2.3. There are no identified sites for retail and leisure development in other parts of the District. However, some of the food store need and non-food store need will be met on larger residential allocations in Beccles and Lowestoft in the form of small local shopping centres.

8.91 There is very little scope for new office development within town centres. It is expected that the need for new office development as identified in the Employment Land Needs Assessment (2016) and the 2017 update will be delivered mostly on business park style sites on sites allocated in this Local Plan. Proposals for new office development in addition to that allocated on sites in this Local Plan should consider the requirements of both Policy WLP8.18 and Policy WLP8.13 on new employment development.

8.92 For sites outside of the town centre and not allocated in the Local Plan, the Framework requires an impact assessment of the proposed development on existing, committed and planned public and private sector investment in town centres. The impact assessment should also consider the impact of the proposal on town centre vitality and viability, including local consumer choice and trade in the town centre and wider area, up to five years from the time the application is made. For major schemes where the full impact will not be realised in five years, the impact should also be assessed up to ten years from the time the application is made. The Framework sets a national threshold of 2,500sqm of development where the impact assessment applies. However, the Framework makes clear that Local Plans can set a local threshold. The Retail and Leisure Needs Assessment states that in Waveney a lower threshold of 350sqm would be appropriate. This is due to the potential impact smaller format supermarkets could have on existing centres, and the impact of smaller non-food stores above 350sqm which are unlikely to trade as a purely local facility.

8.93 Policy WLP8.18 designates Town Centre Boundaries and Primary Shopping Areas. The Policy requires a sequential approach to the development of town centre uses on the basis of these designations in line with the National Planning Policy Framework. Given the lack of sites at present to accommodate needs, the policy sets out a flexible approach to ensure needs can be met in the future if sites can still not be found within the town centre. To ensure new proposals do not undermine the viability and vitality of town centres and significant adverse impacts on existing, committed and planned public and private sector investment in town centres is avoided, new developments over 350sqm will need to be accompanied by an impact assessment. 

 

Policy WLP8.18 - New Town Centre Use Development

Town Centre Boundaries and Primary Shopping Areas are identified on the Policies Map.

New Town Centre Use Development (falling within use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, C1, D2 and B1a) will be permitted within Town Centre Boundaries.

Where there are no suitable or available sites within Town Centres for the proposed development, Town Centre Use development will be permitted on edge of centre sites. For retail developments edge of centre sites should be within 300 metres of the primary shopping area. For development of other Town Centre Uses, edge of centre sites should be within 300 metres of the Town Centre Boundaries.

Where there are no suitable or available sites within Town Centres or edge of centre sites for the proposed development, Town Centre Use development will be permitted on out of centre sites providing:

  • The location is accessible by public transport and is accessible to pedestrians and cyclists;
  • The site has good links to the Town Centre, or links can be improved; and
  • The site will not impact upon other neighbouring uses, in terms of traffic, parking, and amenity issues.
  • Development on out of centre sites which are also outside of Settlement Boundaries will only be permitted where:
  • An additional need for retail or leisure development has been demonstrated to justify the development; and
  • There is no suitable and available land within the settlement boundaries.
  • Planning applications for Town Centre Use development on edge of centre, and out of centre sites over 350sqm should be accompanied by an Impact Assessment which demonstrates the proposal will have no significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the Town Centre, and no significant adverse impact on any Town Centre investments.