5. Shopping

Introduction

Nuneaton Town Centre has some 90,000 square metres and Bedworth Town Centre some 20,000 square metres of net retail floor space. The Nuneaton and Bedworth Retail Strategy (March 1999) prepared for the Council indicated that Nuneaton could expand in the region of 20,000 square metres. This would enable it to compete with nearby centres in comparison and convenience retailing, and maintain the service it provides for local residents. Bedworth is unlikely to support further retail development. The priority is to maintain and enhance its vitality and viability as a convenience retail centre for Bedworth residents.  The Council has agreed an Environmental Strategy (September 1999), which identifies environmental improvements that could be carried out to both Town Centres to improve their attractiveness to shoppers and investors.

Existing planning permissions would add approximately 25,000 square metres of floor space to Nuneaton Town Centre, meeting the identified expansion requirements.  The major scheme is The Ropewalk Development at Chapel Street, which opened in September 2005 adding 18,263 square metres.  It does not appear that further retail expansion will be required in either Town Centre beyond that which has been given permission during the Plan period. For this reason no specific sites have been allocated for development.

Shopping is seen increasingly as a leisure based activity. The shopping centres must respond to changes in social habit and technology, such as Internet shopping. Town and District Centres will change, with more mixed uses serving a greater range of community needs. 

Policies and Explanation

Town Centres

POLICY S1 - Town Centres

New development including extensions to existing buildings will be permitted within Nuneaton and Bedworth Town Centres defined on the Town Centre inset maps if the following criteria can be met:

  1. It sustains and enhances the vitality and viability of the centre.
  2. The scale of development relates to the role and function of the centre within the wider hierarchy of centres, and the catchment served.
  3. It is of a good standard of design and will enhance the appearance of
    the Centre.

The uses that will normally be permitted in the Town Centres include retail, offices, leisure, entertainment, hotels, education, community facilities and housing.  Any development that improves and enhances the Town Centres will be encouraged in line with the Retail and Environmental Strategies.   Mixed use development, particularly including an element of housing, will be encouraged.  However, an assessment statement will normally be required with a planning application to demonstrate that the development will meet the criteria set out in policy S1.  Hotels and other leisure facilities are important in encouraging tourism in line with the Council’s Tourism Strategy 2001-2006. The insert maps and Proposals Map show the boundaries of the Town Centres.

District and Local Centres

POLICY S2 - District and Local Centres

New development including extensions to existing buildings in District and Local Centres will be permitted if:

  1. It sustains and enhances the vitality of that Centre.
  2. The scale of development relates to the role and function of the centre within the wider hierarchy and the catchment served.
  3. It is of a good standard of design; and

if the site or building is suitable for the purpose in that:

  1. There would be no unacceptable noise or disturbance to the occupiers of any nearby residential properties; and
  2. There would be no adverse impact upon the safety and free flow of traffic on adjacent public highways; and
  3. There is sufficient off-street car parking and servicing within the Centre to serve existing needs.

Insert maps show the boundaries of the Town and District Centres.  All the District Centres and the different types of Local Centre found in the Borough, with examples, are described below.

District Centres share common characteristics, for example, a range of comparison and convenience shopping catering for the day to day needs of the local catchment area and passing trade.  They also have some communal car parking and often some community uses such as a clinic, community centre or library.  New leisure uses serving the locality, such as dancing studios or clubs, will be allowed in the Centres.  Local Centres generally contain a small number of shops catering for the basic needs of the locality.

District Centres play an important role in maintaining sustainable communities, as they are located within or close to the community they primarily serve.  The need is to ensure that all these Centres survive and thrive.   Local Centres are also important in this respect as they are often closely associated with residential development and so help to meet the day to day needs of those without access to a car.

The Council will apply a sequential approach when assessing proposals for retailing and other key town centre uses, in line with Government Guidance. This approach requires there to be some measure of the suitability of sites and/or buildings in Centres, and of a Centre’s capacity to accommodate new development.  The criteria given in this policy provide the means to make those measurements.  An Assessment Statement will normally be required with a planning application to demonstrate that proposed development will meet the criteria set out in the policy.

The Council’s objective is to sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of these Centres, as well as the Town Centres, in the interests of local amenity and convenience, economic health, and sustainability.  Within the context of the size, type and purpose of the Centre the diversity of uses is important.  Therefore space must be found for both a variety of shopping experiences and a range of uses other than shopping.

Similarly, the scale of development should be appropriate to the size of a Centre, in terms of its physical presence and its impact on the effectiveness with which the Centre functions.  Good design will contribute positively to the creation and maintenance of the high quality environment that must be provided if a Centre is to continue to attract people to it.

The Council wishes to see mixed-use development in appropriate places, and in particular to encourage people to live in and close to commercial locations.  Sites will therefore only be deemed suitable for the purposes of PPS6 if proposed development would not cause material harm to residential amenity.  Similarly, highway safety and the free flow of traffic are important considerations in the interests of amenity and the effective functioning of Centres.

New developments, if they are to contribute to the overall vitality and viability of a Centre, will generate a net increase in the number of trips to it.  The Council’s policy towards car parking is not to seek unrestrained provision, but the extent to which a Centre’s commercial health depends on the availability of car parking must be recognised.  The Council has to apply a balanced approach.  It will not look to a developer to provide more car parking than could reasonably be related to the development in question; but evidence of an existing shortage of parking supply will be taken as an indicator that the Centre lacks the capacity to accommodate that development.

The existing District Centres are:

Bulkington
Chapel End
Horeston Grange
Kingswood Road
Queens Road
Attleborough

The District Centres Insert Maps show their boundaries.

Five types of Local Centre in the Borough are identified:

Extensions of the Town Centres

For example: Newtown Road, Bedworth and Bulkington Road, Bedworth.

These shops are long established and primarily serve local housing.  However, floorspace in these areas tends to exceed local needs and they also contain a range of specialist shops.  Although located on the edge of the Town Centres these areas have very limited capacity to accommodate further outlets.

Shops along main distributor roads

For example: Nuneaton Road, Bedworth; Coventry Road, Bedworth; Arbury Road, Nuneaton; and Heath End Road, Nuneaton.

These shops are spread along main roads and cumulatively exceed local needs.  They are not compact centres, and attract passing car-borne trade.  Severe traffic problems frequently occur, as generally off-street parking and servicing are not available.

Shops along distributor roads

For example: Smorrall Lane, Bedworth and Church Road, Nuneaton.

These areas experience similar traffic related problems to those on main distributor roads, but here the impact on residential amenity can be greater.

Shops at main road junctions

For example: Coventry Road/School Lane, Exhall; Tomkinson Road/Croft Road, Nuneaton; and Abbey Green, Nuneaton.

Though well related to the local residential catchment they primarily serve these areas can experience the worst congestion and traffic hazard.

Purpose built units 

For example, at: St Nicolas Park Drive, Nuneaton; Copsewood Avenue, Nuneaton; Trelawney Road, Exhall; and Dark Lane, Bedworth.

These small blocks, usually of no more than six units, serve the housing estates in which they are located.  As they are close to dwellings, problems of noise, disturbance and inadequate parking can often result.  Being purpose built contemporary with the housing around them they have little or no capacity to expand, and this is unlikely to be encouraged.

Environmental Improvements

POLICY S3 - Enviromental Improvements

New development which adds further floorspace or facilities in Town and District Centres, will be expected to contribute towards environmental improvements within the Centre in which it is located.

The Council carries out environmental improvements to Shopping Centres.  The Council will continue to look for opportunities for further investment and improvements. 

Development which adds further floor space or facilities to Town or District Centres will be expected to contribute to the environmental improvements of the area in which it is located via a Section 106 Agreement.   Contributions will be commensurate with the size of development proposed.

POLICY S4 - Coventry Colliery

A new Local Centre is proposed at Coventry Colliery.  The Development will be in accordance with a Development Brief. 

Coventry Colliery and land adjacent are being redeveloped for mixed uses, bringing workers and new residents to the area. A new Local Centre of around 500 square metres is justified for small retail shops and community uses to serve the immediate area of Keresley.  However, to ensure that it is properly planned and developed, a Development Brief will be prepared. 

Shops  in edge-of-Town Centre and out-of-Town Centre locations

POLICY S5 - Edge-of-Town Centre and Out-of-Town Centre Locations

New shops or changes of use to shop use in edge-of-Town Centre and out-of-Town centre locations will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that:

  1. There is a need for additional shopping floorspace to serve the Borough.

And if a need can be demonstrated that:

  1. There are no sequentially preferable sites or buildings available in the Town Centres, District Centres, Local Centres or, in the case of out-of-Town Centre  proposals, edge-of-Town Centre locations.
  2. No harm would be caused to the development plan strategy.
  3. There would be no adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Town, District or Local Centres.
  4. There is good and convenient access for users of public transport (i.e. the shop is located within 400m of a bus route), cyclists and pedestrians.
  5. There would be no unacceptable noise or disturbance to any nearby residential properties.
  6. There would be no adverse impact on the free flow or safety of traffic on adjacent public highways.
  7. There would be sufficient off-street parking and servicing facilities to serve the development.

“Edge of Town Centre” for retail purposes is defined in PPS6 Table 2 as a location that is well connected to and within easy walking distance (i.e. up to 300 metres) of the primary shopping area. For the purposes of this Plan “primary shopping area” is taken to refer to Nuneaton and Bedworth Town Centres.

In line with Government statements the need for additional retail floorspace will need to be established.  New retail development in locations unrelated to the existing pattern of provision can cause harm to the local environment as well as to the effectiveness of that provision.  Therefore, the Council will have regard to considerations of local amenity as well as applying the sequential and other key tests set out in Government Guidance.

POLICY S6 - Extensions

Extensions to any retail outlet outside Town, District or Local Centres will not be permitted unless the following criteria can be met:

  1. The need for the extension can be demonstrated and any additional facilities cannot be accommodated in Town, District or Local Centres.
  2. The extension is of good design.
  3. There would be no additional disturbance to nearby residential properties.
  4. The extension is of a scale and character which is in keeping with the size of the existing building and its location.
  5. The development would not adversely affect the free flow or safety of traffic on adjacent public highways.
  6. Sufficient off street parking and servicing is available in accordance with the Council’s adopted standards. 

Extensions to shops outside recognised shopping centres can cause problems to nearby residential properties. If an extension is to be permitted the criteria should be met to minimise any impact on residents.  This policy also relates to the expansion of existing garage forecourt shops.  In line with Government statements the need for additional retail floorspace will need to be established.

A3 to A5 Uses

POLICY S7 - A3 to A5 Uses

Restaurants and cafes (A3 uses), drinking establishments (A4 uses) and hot food takeaways (A5 uses) (as defined in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 and amended by the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2005, and any subsequent orders) will not be permitted outside an identified Town or District Centre, unless the following criteria can be met:

  1. It is within an existing or new local centre.
  2. A sufficient separation gap is available and can be maintained between the proposed development and the nearest residential property (including flats above premises) having regard to the size and nature of the proposal and the nature and character of the surrounding area.
  3. Sufficient ventilation and extraction facilities are provided (details should be submitted with any planning application).
  4. The development would not adversely affect the free flow or safety of traffic on adjacent public highways.
  5. Sufficient off street parking and servicing areas are available in accordance with the Council’s adopted Standards.
  6. There would be no additional disturbance to nearby residential properties,
  7. A combination of no more than 20% of the total amount of units in the Centre are in A3, A4 and A5 uses. 

Hours restrictions may be placed upon the property to minimise disturbance to neighbours.  Where the proposal is in or adjoining an established, mainly residential area, to protect the living conditions of neighbouring residents the separation distance in criterion (b) is unlikely to be less than 30 metres and may need to be more.

Extensions to existing premises will need to meet criteria b. to f.

POLICY S8 - A3 to A5 Uses Within Town and District Centres

Within Town and District Centres, A3, A4 and A5 uses will be permitted unless there are more than 20% of the total number of units in the Centre already in a combination of those use classes. 

A3, A4 and A5 uses, particularly hot food takeaways and public houses often cause problems of cooking smells, customer litter, disturbance from late night opening and a high level of car borne customers who often wish to park as close to the premises as possible. These problems make the facilities difficult to locate in residential areas where they are most often needed. The existence of such uses can also lead to an expanse of closed premises during the day and therefore there should be no more than 20% of A3, A4 and A5 uses in combination in any one centre to protect the vitality and viability of the centre. To lessen their impact they should be located in Town or District Centres where sufficient background noise can help to minimise the impact at night and there is sufficient separation from residential properties.

Sue Generis Uses of a Retail Nature on Industrial Estates

POLICY S9 - Sue Generis Uses of a Retail Nature on Industrial Estates

Development proposals relating to the provision of sui generis retail uses outside of the established Town, District or Local Centre identified in the Plan, will be strictly controlled unless the following criteria can be met:

  1. The applicant has demonstrated that the majority of the goods on offer cannot be reasonably be sold from a Town, District or Local Centre location, and
  2. the applicant has demonstrated that there are no suitable premises / or sites within the established Town, District or local Centre locations identified in the Plan, and
  3. the development would not adversely affect the free flow or safety of traffic on the public highway, and
  4. proper off street parking and servicing areas can be provided in accordance with the Council’s adopted standards, and
  5. that where the development proposals are located within an existing industrial estate, no more than 205 of the total floorspace on the estate would be in other than employment (B1, B2 and B8) use. 

Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for Town Centres reaffirms the Government’s approach towards retail uses within Town Centres and the application of the sequential approach.   Sui Generis retail uses cover a variety of scales and formats, for example, the display and sale of motor vehicles and accessories, wholesale warehouse clubs, and the sale and hire of power tools.   The stores selling these goods may require a size of unit that is difficult to accommodate within a town, district or local centre.  PPS6 clearly states that it is the responsibility of developers and retailers to demonstrate that a majority of their goods cannot be sold from town centre stores and to provide evidence that they have complied with that guidance, applicants must demonstrate flexibility and realism in terms of format, design and scale of development, and the amount of car parking, tailoring these to fit local circumstances.   Where development consists of defined elements, such as retail warehouse park or a grouping of retail or leisure uses, developers are expected to consider the degree to which constituent parts of the development could be accommodated within existing centres.

Where cases are demonstrated following these tests, that existing town, district and local centres do not provide sites that meet a developers need for sui generis use (of a retail nature) they may be appropriately located on industrial estates.  The Council does however wish to ensure that industrial estates do not become dominated by non-employment uses so a 20% limit is proposed.

Car Parking

POLICY S10 - Car Parking

New retail developments within Town and District Centres should not result in a reduction in the level of parking provision for that centre. Development outside of Town or District Centres will normally be expected to provide car parking in accordance with the Council’s adopted Standards. 

Development within the Town and District Centres are in sustainable locations and have good access to Public Transport facilities. Therefore it is considered that new car parking is not currently required for such development but that the supply should not fall below the current level.  PPG13 refers to the need to strike a balance between encouraging new investment in town centres by providing adequate levels of car parking and potentially increasing congestion.  In the Council’s view this policy strikes a balance appropriate to the current circumstances, having regard to the existing provision and proposals under construction to improve accessibility by transport means other than the private car.  It is recognised, however, that the circumstances affecting the balance may change over the lifetime of the plan.  Therefore retail development proposals that include new parking provision in or on the edge of the town or district centres will be judged on their merits against the circumstances prevailing at the time. Development outside of these centres often suffer from poorer public transport provision and therefore developers may wish to provide car parking. Where it is to be provided, 10% of all new parking provision will be to be a design standard for those with disabilities and mobility problems.  A negotiable element on some developments will be needed for parent and child spaces.  Standards of car parking have been produced in the Council’s Supplementary Planning Guidance Car Parking Standards 2003. Applicants will need to demonstrate how other modes of sustainable transport can be encouraged. Measures will be required as part of Section 106 obligations.

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