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SHO1  Principles For New Retail Development  Strategic Policy

In considering proposals for new retail development, the local planning authority will seek to sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of key town centres, traditional suburban centres and other shopping provision in the borough and ensure that people have easy access by a choice of transport modes to a wide range of shopping provision.

Reasoned justification :

16.1 Changing patterns of retailing have seen operators increasingly seeking larger sites, often in out-of-centre locations. The move away from established centres has encompassed national food retailers and some areas of the comparison goods sector such as DIY, furniture and other bulky goods, leading to the development of the retail warehouse park concept. More recently, some traditional high street comparison goods retailers have begun to open stores in out-of-centre locations. Other recent trends include purpose-built regional shopping centres, typified by the Cheshire Oaks scheme near Ellesmere Port, and the introduction from the United States of America of the discount warehouse club, one of which is proposed in Liverpool.

16.2 Failure to provide for these new types of retailing could lead to a loss of consumer spending to centres outside Wirral, with implications for wealth-creation and jobs. At the same time it is essential that the most vulnerable groups within the Borough are not denied access to essential retail facilities. Sizeable numbers of households do not have access to a car, particularly in the inner urban area, and given the poor accessibility of out-of-centre developments to non-car owners, retention of local shopping facilities is therefore essential.

16.3 The Council’s response to these challenges has been to adopt policies which seek to strengthen and diversify the Borough’s existing shopping centres while making provision for out-of centre development only where this will not harm the vitality and viability of established centres.

16.4 Planning policies in the UDP are complemented by a wide-ranging programme of improvements to selected shopping centres in the designated inner area of Wirral, initially as part of the Urban Programme, and more recently through the Government’s City Challenge Initiative.

16.5 Action ranges from programmes of shop front grants to a more comprehensive approach, including planned contraction of a retail centre to a more viable level, external refurbishment of premises, environmental improvements and the assembly of sites for new “anchor” foodstores.

16.6 In all the centres treated thus far, the works have transformed the visual appearance of the centre and helped boost investment and confidence, helping to ensure that the centres have a long and sustainable future.

16.7 Subject to the continuing availability of resources, it is planned that this programme of improvements should continue, focused on those centres where it is clear an essential local function is being served, where realistic potential for a self-sustaining long-term future exists and where work would complement other community-based Council initiatives.