Centres, retailand leisure

We advise on all aspects of retail, leisure and town centre development, from neighbourhood foodstores to major mixed-use regeneration projects. We work with operators, developers, investors and local authorities to find bespoke solutions that support diverse and competitive town centres. In recognition of our expertise, senior members of our team are appointed as Planning Experts to the Government’s High Streets Task Force.

Our work is informed by our understanding of key town centre and socio demographic data sources, and we are able to draw on the full range of technical retail planning skills, including retail impact assessment.

We are experienced in promoting our clients’ retail and town centre interests at Local Plan Examination and at Inquiry.

Retail Strategies and Studies

We have an excellent track record in preparing retail and town centre studies which act as the evidence base to support emerging development plans. Our studies typically include the detailed quantitative and qualitative assessment of future retail, leisure and other main town centre use needs, and provide comprehensive assessments of the vitality and viability of defined centres. Our team is experienced in successfully defending such evidence at Examination.

Retail and town centre studies can also assist local planning authorities in their consideration of planning applications for such uses, and also allow the impacts arising as a consequence of major development to be properly understood.

In undertaking retail and town centre studies, we recognise the need for successful town centres to evolve ‘beyond retail’ in order to drive footfall and encourage visitors to stay for longer. In particular, our advice reflects the increasingly important contribution made by the leisure sector (which cannot easily be replicated online), and the role of markets and town centre events in reviving the fortunes of the high street. We are knowledgeable about new formats, trends and technologies which ensures that our advice reflects emerging good practice.

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We regularly undertake retail masterplans and frameworks for local authority clients and lead multi-disciplinary teams to address all matters which impact on the future growth and development of a centre. We have advised local authorities in respect of their Future High Street Fund and Town Fund Bids.

Our retail masterplans and frameworks identify a distinct vision to underpin the future role and function of a centre, and consider how site-specific opportunities can deliver change. Many high streets simply have too much retail floorspace. We understand the need for centres to diversify to bring centres back into active use, drive footfall and remain relevant as the hub of the local community. We work with local authorities, BID teams, town centre managers, land owners and other key stakeholders to fully understand a town’s character and needs, before considering delivery strategies and key interventions.

We are appreciative that town centre strategies and development plans should highlight practical measures to deliver projects and effect change. As such, we seek to ensure our recommendations are deliverable and reflective of commercial considerations.

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We advise clients on the appropriate re-use of retail and town centre land and premises. We draw upon our significant experience in advising on town centre development across the country to help identify appropriate uses, and we co-ordinate multi-disciplinary teams to ensure that proposals are delivered in practice.

In considering the re-use of sites, we utilise the skills of our colleagues in Nexus Research and Analytics both to consider the needs of residents and visitors, and to clearly identify the economic benefits arising from redevelopment. We draw on our contacts within local authorities to bridge public and private sectors in order to secure sustainable development that diversifies and modernises our towns.

Nexus Planning recently authored the Future: Department Stores research paper, which examined occupancy activity at over 900 department store locations across the UK. The paper identifies regional trends in the re-use of department store stock, and considers how vacant space can be repurposed in order to underpin the future vitality and viability of town centres.

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