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Retail Trade: Planning

Volume 483: debated on Tuesday 18 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the extent to which in-town trade diversion affects town centres; and whether this assessment will be taken into account in revisions to Planning Policy Statement 6. (236505)

Our “Proposed Changes to Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for town centres”, published on 10 July 2008, make clear that a key consideration to take into account when considering the impact of proposals for retail and leisure development is whether there will be an impact on in-centre trade/turnover, taking account of current and future consumer expenditure capacity in the catchment area of the proposal.

In formulating our proposals we have taken account of a number of studies, particularly “The Merry Hill Impact Study” (DoE, 1993); “The Impact of Large Foodstores on Market Towns and District Centres” (DETR, 1998); and our research into “The Policy Evaluation of the Effectiveness of PPG6” (ODPM, 2004).

We have also had regard to planning cases decided by the Secretary of State and Inspectors, as indicated in our consultation document. We have also drawn upon a number of other reports to inform our proposals, including:

(1) “The Smaller Towns Report”, published by the British Council of Shopping Centres in 2004; and

(2) “Town Centre and Retailing Methodologies”, published by One Scotland in 2007.

As we said in our consultation proposals, we expect to implement our revisions in spring 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how the proposed revision of Planning Policy Statement 6 will protect and promote retail diversity. (236506)

Our “Proposed Changes to Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for town centres”, published on 10 July 2008, set out a strong policy framework within which local authorities should plan for their town centres and retail development. Our proposals recognise the importance of achieving a broad range of retailer representation, both large and small, to improve the attractiveness of town centres and promoting competition and consumer choice. To achieve this we are asking local authorities to plan proactively for their town centres by making full and effective use of available tools such as their development plan policies, planning conditions, Local Development Orders and Article 4 Directions. We are also asking them to promote competitive town centre environments by, where appropriate, giving priority consideration to whether the established character and diversity of their town centres should be protected and enhanced.

Our proposed new impact test will also provide a more effective way of assessing the impact of unplanned proposals outside town centres by requiring applicants for such proposals to assess the extent to which a proposal will promote or undermine town centre vitality and viability, including the impact on local consumer choice and retail diversity in terms of the range, type and quality of goods.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to issue revised Planning Policy Statement 6; and whether the revised version will incorporate the recent recommendations of the Competition Commission on competition in the retail sector. (236508)

As we said in our ‘Proposed Changes to Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for town centres’, published on 10 July 2008, we expect to implement our revisions in spring 2009.

Whether our revised policy will incorporate a ‘competition test’ for planning decisions on larger grocery stores, as recommended by the Competition Commission (CC), will depend on the outcome of the Tesco appeal to the Competition Appeal tribunal and our further consideration of the CC's proposals. As we said in the Government's response to the CC inquiry into UK groceries retailing in July, we will report more fully on our decision in the light of developments. Our published response can be viewed on the BERR website at:

http://www.berr.gov.uk/bbf/competition/market-studies/supplyofgroceries/index.html