We were commissioned to produce a Retail Evidence Study update on the behalf of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA). Its purpose was to inform the town centre and retail policies of the emerging South Downs Local Plan, the Authority’s first plan since its designation as a National Park in 2011.
Taking into account the sensitivities of its national park status, our Study drew on existing household survey data to advise on potential requirements for the market towns of Midhurst, Petworth and Liss. We assessed the town centre boundaries and primary and secondary shopping frontages. Meetings were held with Petworth and Liss Neighbourhood Planning groups, where we acted as a 'critical friend' advising on policies within their respective Neighbourhood Plans. This process was made possible through the development of a positive working relationship with the Council and local communities.
Our Study identified the market share of the towns as retail destinations and the growing local population to provide an assessment of the capacity for new retail floorspace over the plan period. We also provided recommendations for the suitability of a locally set threshold to trigger a Retail Impact Assessment and an assessment of the proposed town centre and retail policies for the emerging South Downs Local Plan.