London Borough of Tower Hamlets Retail Needs Assessment (2021)

We were commissioned by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to undertake the East of Borough Area Action Plan (AAP) Retail Needs Assessment via a competitive tender process in summer 2020.

Our Solutions

We undertook the commission using a three-stage approach. The first involved using household survey data to calculate need within the study area, while the second stage assessed appropriate locations for new development. Having found that there was no ‘need’ for additional retail floorspace over the plan period, the second stage of our work focussed on how the local and neighbourhood centres could stay ‘relevant’ in the future. The final stage included preparing intervention plans for the centres, designed to respond to appropriate trends and help those centres stay relevant in the future.

A key challenge was undertaking this work in the wake of the national lockdown. In collecting data, both through surveys and health-checks, we had to ensure that our methodology was robust enough to appropriately discern between the previous state of the centres, the direct impacts of the pandemic, and what is to become the ‘new normal’. Three forms of research were used as the baseline of this study including a household survey, town centre health-checks, and local business surveys.

The Outcome

The output of the commission was a collated final report including detailed appendices and corresponding mapping. As part of the Study, and having undertaken detailed centre health checks assessments, we prepared a series of intervention plans for each local and neighbourhood centre, which made specific recommendations for ways to ensure that each of the centres remains relevant in the wider spatial context of the AAP.