9. Shopping and town centres
9.1 The borough is served by nine distinct town centres. Each has a unique character and role identified with the district it serves and, in many instances, with a distinct period in the development of the borough.
9.2 These town centres are located at the foci of the road and public transport networks and are normally well linked to one another and surrounding districts. These centres are generally the most accessible locations in the borough by public transport. Facilities in town centres are therefore normally in the best place to service and benefit the public as a whole ‑ residents, workers and visitors.
9.3 A wide range of activities takes place in town centres ensuring their dominant place in the social and economic life of the community and contributing to their individual characters. Central to the vitality and viability of these town centres is their function as shopping centres.
9.4 The retailing industry is continually adapting to changing economic and social conditions and shopping habits, which are bringing about changes in shops and shopping centres. Amongst the more significant changes for town centres in recent years have been the decline of independent retailers, a trend towards larger shops, which often require larger sites more easily found outside town centres, and the growth in financial, estate agency, bars, restaurants and other services. The growth in Sunday trading continues to affect town centres and traffic conditions wherever out-of-town retailers are concentrated.
9.5 Whilst out‑of‑centre shopping and new forms of services can offer benefits they can also constitute a threat to the traditional role of town centres. The Council is concerned that these new demands should be accommodated where possible, but balanced with the need to retain the role of town centres as the focus of retailing and community life.
9.6 Town centres will also be the preferred locations for leisure activities and other major trip generating uses, which can benefit from the greater accessibility offered by such locations. Under the governments recommended sequential approach, first preference will be given to locations within existing town centres. If no such sites are available and applicants can demonstrate that need or capacity exists, consideration may be given to edge-of-centre sites, district and local centres and, only then, to out-of-centre locations that are accessible by a choice of means of transport.
Bexley's strategy for shopping
9.7 The Council's planning strategy identifies town centres as the main focal points of activity and in particular shopping and related services.
9.8 To accommodate the changing needs of traders and shoppers, it is important that town centres are kept up‑to‑date. Individual buildings and even a town centre as a whole can become out‑of‑date with current demands. This is a complex process and requires renewal and investment by both the public and private sectors, sometimes in partnership. To identify the type of enhancements needed it is necessary to have an understanding of the role of each shopping centre. The borough's shopping centres fall into the following four tier functional hierarchy.
- Strategic Centre: Bexleyheath
- Major District Centres: Crayford, Erith, Sidcup and Welling
- District Centres: Belvedere, Bexley, Blackfen and Northumberland Heath
- Neighbourhood Centres: Listed in Appendix G.
There are also important shops located outside the nine town centres defined above, ranging from local shopping centres and corner shops, through to freestanding larger superstores.
9.9 Bexleyheath functions as the borough's Strategic Centre providing the borough's major comparison goods shopping as well as being the borough's main centre for leisure, civic and community uses and one of the borough's Preferred Office Locations. Bexleyheath is located at the hub of the local bus network, with links to other Strategic Centres in the region. It has a wide range of national multiple retailers and important, mostly independent, specialist shops that serve a wide catchment area. The centre draws its trade from a wide catchment area with over 600,000 people within a 20 minute car drive (approx. 30 mins. bus ride or 25 mins. cycle ride). However, for specific purchases, shoppers from outside the regular catchment may be attracted to Bexleyheath, just as shoppers living within Bexleyheath's catchment will also shop in competing comparable shopping centres. It is the Council's intention to maintain and enhance the role of Bexleyheath as the Strategic Centre of the borough. Chapter 11 provides policies specific to Bexleyheath; where there is any conflict the policies for Bexleyheath will take precedence within the Strategic Centre.
9.10 The primary function of Major District Centres is the provision of convenience shopping, as well as comparison shopping to a more confined catchment area. The majority of comparison stores will be independents. These centres often fulfil a significant service, social and community role and may have a notable employment function. All have been identified as centres where office uses will be encouraged. These centres are linked to Bexleyheath and one another and fed from surrounding catchment areas by a network of roads and public transport services. Policies seek to promote these centres for enhancement and growth.
9.11 District Centres have a smaller catchment area than the Major District Centres and regularly draw their trade from the local population. Shopping in these centres primarily caters for convenience trade, although comparison goods retailers are also represented. The majority of shops are independently run. However, as with the Strategic and Major District Centres, individual specialist shops that draw from a wider catchment than the rest of the shopping centre may be represented. Public transport links are generally good but provision for car borne shoppers is more limited. Policies seek to enhance and consolidate the shopping roles of these centres.
9.12 Neighbourhood Centres play a particularly important role for local daily food shopping, serving a range of basic day‑to‑day needs. To this end, policies will protect these local shopping facilities, which are also important to many people with children without the use of a car during the day, the elderly, infirm and less agile. Outside the Neighbourhood Centres defined on the Proposals Map there are isolated shops that provide for daily 'top-up' purchases, a particularly important role in areas relatively remote from other shops. Shortages of local shops for "top‑up" shopping trips inconvenience mobile and car owning households as well as the less mobile.
9.13 For simplicity, the Strategic Centre, Major District Centres and District Centres are sometimes collectively referred to as town centres in this Plan, to distinguish them from other kinds of shopping areas. Neighbourhood Centres and isolated shops are collectively referred to as local shops.
9.14 In preparing the policies and proposals for shopping and town centres, the Council has taken account of background studies including surveys and other quantitative and qualitative retail information. Forecasts have been conducted to assess the capacity for further shopping development in the plan period, for a catchment area that is realistic in shopping terms and slightly larger than the borough. Qualitative strengths and deficiencies in the range of shopping facilities accessible to residents have also been identified. In particular, analysis shows nearly 45% of residents live more than 800 metres (½ mile) from a specialist grocery store capable of providing the majority of their grocery needs. Some local shops have a particularly important role providing convenience-shopping services in these areas of deficiency.
9.15 As indicated above, retail policies are based upon background studies. It is the Council's intention to keep under review matters that may be expected to affect retail development and trends in the borough and institute surveys as necessary for this purpose.
9.16 The increasing use of the car (77% of Bexley households have the use of a car) and changes in retailing have resulted in an increase in weekly car‑borne shopping‑trips to large convenience superstores and the use of retail warehouses. These stores can complement town centre shops and offer a range of benefits to consumers. Bexley residents, particularly in the central and southern parts of the borough, already have reasonably good choice and access to a variety of these types of stores. The north of the borough is less well served.
9.17 It is the Council's view that there is likely to be scope for further convenience and comparison shopping, including retail warehousing, over the Plan period. However, this scope is limited and it is considered that the opportunities presented by future retail development should be utilised to address the deficiencies identified in the provision of certain types of shops in parts of the borough. Development of Broadway Square in Bexleyheath, at town centre locations and the sites identified in Policy SHO3 are best placed to achieve this. Other proposals will be considered on their merits.
9.18 It is the Council's view that sufficient sites have been identified to allow market choice about how and where additional shopping floor space to satisfy these deficiencies is provided, and how the available shopping capacity is taken up over the plan period without seriously impacting on existing shopping centres. It is the case that there may be insufficient retail capacity to enable all of the individual identified sites to be developed, to the maximum, for retailing.
9.19 Town centres and other shopping facilities are served by the network of roads and public transport. The quality of public transport service and accessibility generally increase the larger the centre.
9.20 The clustering of appropriate types of shops and services at town centres has a variety of benefits. It enables businesses to gain the benefits of mutual support and competition. Infrastructure such as car parks and scarce land can be used efficiently, thus reducing the need to use land in open or other use for shopping. New shopping development can also create opportunities for the regeneration of town centres.
9.21 The combination of shopping facilities provided throughout the range of centres ensures that the shopper enjoys better service and has a real choice between different shops and types of retailing that are accessible. The shopper with use of a car has a choice over how to travel to the shops and whether to make multi‑purpose "shopping‑trips" thus reducing the number and length of car journeys. This can help save energy and reduce environmental pollution and congestion. By safeguarding isolated shops and Neighbourhood Centres the policy aims to ensure that shoppers without use of a car, including the elderly, the infirm or disabled, mothers with young children and those on lower incomes who rely on public transport, cycling or walking, can gain access to shops and services at town or Neighbourhood Centres.
Bexleyheath Town Centre ‑ the Strategic Centre
9.22 The Council's main aims for Bexleyheath are to enhance its role as the borough's Strategic Centre by:
- enhancing the quantity and quality of shopping floor space in the town centre;
- encouraging office development and other non‑retail uses where appropriate throughout the town centre;
- maintaining and promoting the civic and recreational role of the town centre and safeguarding appropriate residential accommodation;
- improving the environment, particularly through the pedestrianisation of part of Broadway;
- continuing to promote the accessibility of the town centre; and
- promoting the distribution of satisfactory and accessible car and cycle parking for all users of the town centre.
Chapter 11 of this plan provides detailed policies and proposals for Bexleyheath Town Centre.
The Council will continue to enhance the attractiveness of Bexleyheath as the borough's Strategic Centre including the introduction of major new shopping facilities on appropriate sites within the town centre. The Council will resist any proposal that prejudices this role as the Strategic Centre for the borough.
9.23 Bexleyheath contains almost half of the total shopping floor space in the borough's town centres. It is the only centre in the borough large enough to attract further major comparison retailers, which, if attracted into the borough, would significantly improve the quality of shops available. To enhance its attractiveness as the borough's strategic shopping centre, Bexleyheath should offer the greatest possible choice and diversity of shops. Independent, specialist retailers are an important element of this diversity and provide local interest and character amongst standardised national multiple‑stores. This will ensure that Bexleyheath continues to attract shoppers from a wide catchment area and maintains its strategic role and status.
Promotion of town centres
9.24 Town centre boundaries are defined to provide a focus for the activity and services that are a vital part of the social and economic life of surrounding communities. The clustering of appropriate uses in these centres brings a variety of benefits considered in paragraphs 9.20 and 9.21 above and paragraphs 8.35-8.37 in Chapter 8. The scope of the policy is defined in paragraph 9.13.
The Council will promote the enhancement of the quality of shopping provision and the environment of all town centres and encourage appropriate shopping developments within the boundaries of these centres. All proposals should:
- ensure external facades and alterations are in keeping with existing buildings and the townscape and, where appropriate, building‑lines are maintained;
- provide satisfactory arrangements for servicing (there should be sufficient capacity in the surrounding road network to accommodate the additional traffic generated and the highway arrangement should be of suitable design);
- provide satisfactory access and egress;
- comply with the Council's adopted vehicle parking standards;
- ensure the layout is designed to encourage customers arriving on foot, by bicycle or by public transport and provide satisfactory means of access for people with disabilities; and
- not conflict with other policies in this plan.
9.25 Government policy guidance supports the Council's view that existing centres should continue to be the main foci for the provision of shopping facilities and that modernisation and refurbishment are essential to maintain their vitality, role and character. This requires ongoing investment and renewal. The Council's policies seek to ensure that future development within town centres maximises benefits to residents, shoppers and other users by way of improved shopping facilities and associated improvements to the centres' environment. Planning Policy Guidance Note 1 underlines the importance of designing the spaces between and around buildings with the needs of people with disabilities in mind. The overall effect of the Council's policies for shopping, offices and other appropriate uses in centres means that demand for further shopping development is more likely to occur in Bexleyheath Town Centre and the Major District Centres.
Major retail development
In addition to town centres generally, the following sites, shown on the Proposals Map, are suitable for a range of uses, including retail warehousing:
- Tower Retail Park, Crayford
- Fraser Road (former Atlas Works), Erith
- Land between the A20 and Watery Lane, Foots Cray
Other than those sites listed above, sites not within the town centres will only be supported for major retail development proposals if all of the following criteria are satisfied:
- the proposal, either alone or cumulatively with other developments, must not seriously adversely affect the future vitality and viability of any shopping centre, such that it could undermine that town centre's future place in the life of the community;
- the proposal is not located in a Primary Employment Area indicated on the Proposals Map; and
subject to there being no conflict with other policies of the plan:
- the proposal should be convenient to public transport and provide satisfactory means of access for people with disabilities and for people arriving on foot, bicycle or by public transport;
- the development satisfies the requirements of Policy T6 and adequate site access can be provided;
- the provision of vehicle parking in accordance with the Council's current adopted standards and satisfactory arrangements for servicing; and
- the proposal is compatible with surrounding uses and will not cause any undesirable impact on neighbouring areas.
9.26 The terms retail warehouse and superstore are defined in the glossary. Different sites are considered suitable for food and non-food stores because of the very different retail patterns and impacts associated with food and non-food goods.
9.27 As appropriate, the Council may impose conditions to safeguard the amenities of neighbouring occupiers, and on the range of goods sold to protect the roles of existing town centres. In certain circumstances conditions may be imposed on the broad categories of non-food goods sold.
9.28 The London Plan stresses the importance of existing town centres as the main foci for shopping facilities. These centres are at the focal points of the public transport network and are convenient to all sections of the population including those who are not making a particular shopping trip by car. This may be people who do not have access to a car, for example the elderly, people with disabilities and less agile people and people who have chosen to not use a car for a particular shopping trip, for example a top-up trip carried out in a worker's lunch break. It is recognised that large stores can pass on a variety of benefits to the consumer in terms of value for money, range of goods, extended opening hours, and convenience.
9.29 New food stores are best located in town centres where their benefits are more accessible to the public as a whole, the use of existing investment and infrastructure can be optimised, and the role of town centres enhanced. In addition to town centre locations generally, provision was previously made for food stores on two specific sites. The supermarket sites at Erith and Sidcup have now been developed. It is the Council's view that these sites, together with town centre locations generally, offer good provision for a range of food shopping floor space to satisfy the majority of needs throughout the life of the Plan.
9.30 Retail warehousing is also recognised as an appropriate use in all town centres. However, retailers of major household goods, bulky DIY items etc. have also found it advantageous to move to out-of-centre sites. Sites appropriate for retail warehousing, as well as other uses, have been identified and the Council considers that these sites together offer market choice for a range of retail warehousing development to satisfy deficiencies and take-up capacity for additional floor space to satisfy the majority of demand for this form of retailing during the Plan period.
9.31 All proposals for major retail development will be treated on their merits, subject to the criteria 1-6 in Policy SHO3 above. However, the Council will encourage the development of the sites identified above in preference to other sites because: (a) it is considered the shopping needs of residents and shoppers will be best served through development at these sites; and (b) that these sites offer the best available opportunities to satisfy retailer demands, as one of the competing demands for land.
9.32 Out of town proposals that would seriously affect the continuing vitality and viability of a nearby town centre as a whole, such as could lead to the detriment of its future place in the economic and social life of the community, will be resisted. The issue is not simply one of whether existing trade will be affected. It is generally accepted that in order for a town centre to maintain its place in the economic and social life of the community, it is necessary for business confidence to be maintained and for continuing investment in new facilities to occur to maintain competitiveness and attractiveness. Policy SHO2 promotes such investment. Out of town proposals that would prejudice approved proposals, for which there would otherwise be a reasonable degree of certainty, important to the maintenance of the vitality and viability of a nearby town centre as a whole, should be resisted.
9.33 In assessing the impact of shopping proposals on the vitality and viability of existing centres, the Council will be particularly concerned with their impacts on the centres as a whole, particularly where developments are likely to lead to a significant reduction of food retailing. In this context the Council will have regard to the implications for maintaining the quality and accessibility of food shopping, particularly for the less mobile.
9.34 It is considered that an appropriate balance has been struck in the Plan between land identified for retailing and land identified for industry and commerce. This has taken into account the supply and need for retail land and the need to reconcile this with demand for other forms of development and the protection of the environment over the life of the Plan. It is considered that land and buildings in the Primary Employment Areas should be safeguarded for industrial and commercial uses as appropriate to each area as outlined in the employment chapter.
9.35 Increasing car ownership has also improved accessibility to the Green Belt and demand for retail activities such as garden centres, nursery gardens and farm shops. Further provision will, however, only be acceptable where the major proportion of the merchandise is farm or horticultural produce, and is produced on site or on other land under control of the farm (See Policy ENV12).
Sites for major retail development
9.36 The Council identified a range of sites in Policy SHO3 in the adopted Plan of 1996 where comprehensive treatment could enable major retail development, either alongside or as an alternative to other uses. Most of the sites have subsequently been developed. The land supply position in 2003 is as follows.
9.37 Tower Retail Park, Crayford * Tower Retail Park was developed as part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the Rich Industrial Estate, which was sought to address the problems of an obsolete and congested industrial area and the associated traffic impacts on the town centre. The remainder of the former industrial estate has been developed for employment units along the new Tower Park Road.
9.38 Demand for further retail warehouse floor space in this area is likely to be very restricted. However, limited amount of floor space here will be accessible to residents at the north and north east of the borough, and could complement other shopping facilities in the town centre.
9.39 Fraser Road (former Atlas Works), Erith * Planning permission was granted (on Appeal) for non-food retailing on this site and has been implemented on part of the site with just over 1 ha remaining vacant and available for development in 2003.
9.40 Land between the A20 and Watery Lane, Foots Cray * This area was previously identified as part of the Foots Cray Business Area. The site stands on a limb compared to the core of the area. It is essentially self-contained and occupied by established retail warehouse uses. In view of the particular access and servicing problems, the Council granted planning permission for a comprehensive redevelopment of the site and development subsequently took place. Any alternative approach to redevelopment will be assessed against other Plan policies, particularly those relating to access and traffic management. The site is not considered appropriate for use as a food superstore because of the likely impact on the future role of Sidcup town centre of a food store at this location.
Non-retail uses in town centres
In determining planning applications in the defined core shopping frontages the Council will resist changes of use of shops (Use Class A1) at ground floor level to other uses that would not enhance the character, viability and vitality of the centre. In particular, proposals will be expected to satisfy all of the following criteria:
- the proposed use is a food and drink outlet (Use Class A3) or a bank or building society (within Use Class A2) or a use that will complement the retail function of the core shopping frontage;
- the proposed use will not create or add to a concentration of a particular type of non retail use within an area of core frontage where the cumulative effects could undermine the retail function or cause parking and traffic problems, or other adverse effects on local residential amenity;
- (a) the proposed non-retail use is not located next to two or more average units in non retail use or with planning permission for a non-retail use and (b) the proposal itself, together with any adjacent existing or permitted non-retail uses, should not create a continuous length of frontage in non-retail use exceeding two average widths;
- the proposed use would not increase the proportion of average units in non- retail use in the core frontage to more than 30% or, the proportion for the town centre as a whole to more than 45%;
- the proportion of units in the core frontage in retail use is significantly higher than that outside the core frontage;
- the proposed use would not have an adverse effect on the character and environment, or the amenity of occupiers in the vicinity and parking and traffic conditions; and
- the proposal includes a shop style fascia, with an appropriate window display at ground floor level.
Proposals for food and drink outlets (Use Class A3) should in addition satisfy Policy SHO9.
9.41 It is the Council's objective to sustain and enhance the attractiveness and viability of the borough's town centres as its principal shopping centres. An increasing proportion of expenditure is being diverted to out-of-centre locations, and with the increased pressure for non-retail uses, there has been a contraction in the number of retail units.
9.42 It is Government policy to encourage a diversification of uses in town centres as a whole in a way that contributes to their vitality and viability. Proposals for non-retail use should therefore demonstrably enhance the vitality, viability and character of a centre by virtue of increased customer generation and attraction. Where the Council has also prepared a promotional town centre strategy for a particular centre, proposals should be consistent with that strategy.
9.43 For a centre to operate successfully, it is essential to retain a defined core shopping frontage that will endure over time. This focus of shopping activity provides maximum convenience for all shoppers, enables shoppers to make comparisons more easily and can reduce the need for travel by encouraging one stop shopping trips. Core frontages contain a high proportion of the shops for the retail sale of goods or are considered to have retail potential. The Government supports this division of larger shopping areas into primary and secondary areas (referred to here as core and non-core frontages) and states that policies to strengthen the former may be justified. Core and non-core frontages are defined elsewhere in this chapter. Policy SHO4 ensures an appropriate overall balance of retail use within the core to maintain the retail function that must continue to underpin the town centres as a whole. Policy SHO5 addresses the balance of retail uses in the non-core shopping frontage.
9.44 In all the borough's town centres, non-retail uses already occupy a substantial proportion of the core shopping frontages. These constitute a pool of shop units already established in non-retail use and potentially available for reuse by other non-retail uses as they become vacant. As an example, changes and restructuring in the banking and financial services sector could release units for other uses within Class A2.
9.45 Banks and Building Societies perform a particularly important function and contribute to the vitality of town centres serving the essential needs of shoppers. These particular uses, which are already well represented in most core frontages, also make a vital contribution to the economic activity of town centres and therefore a core location is considered appropriate. Other uses within the A2 Use Class are unlikely to have this pivotal role and are better located outside the core shopping frontage rather than created at the expense of further loss of retail uses.
9.46 Many uses within Class A3, in particular well presented cafes and fast food restaurants, can make a positive contribution to the vitality of town centres both inside and outside shopping hours. Other uses within A3 may not offer the same positive contribution. A3 proposals will therefore be considered in core and non-core frontages within the terms of Policy SHO9. Changes of use from retail can sometimes create new concentrations of single uses or of different types of non-retail use, which may undermine the retail function or give rise to local traffic and environmental problems. Policy SHO4 will be applied so as to avoid clustering of non-retail uses.
9.47 Policy SHO5 makes provision for further non-retail uses outside the core shopping frontages.
9.48 In granting planning permission, planning conditions or agreements may be required to restrict or limit the range of uses in a non-retail use class to ensure the continued positive contribution of a shop unit to the area.
9.49 In applying criterion 2, account will be taken of the following matters:
- Concentrations of non-retail uses in areas within the centre. These areas may comprise a discrete block of units occupying both sides of a road or a naturally defined area of the centre, such as an extension of the shopping centre along a side road, or parade, or shopping mall. Concentrations may consequently interrupt pedestrian flow to other parts of the shopping centre or adversely affect the vitality or viability of the centre or parts of it, or the amenities of people living nearby.
- For the centre as a whole, assessments of the cumulative impact of further non-retail uses, will also take account of the incidence of long-term vacancies (over 12 months) in the centre.
- Vacancy levels in the town centre. As a guideline, proposals for the conversion of an occupied, retail unit to a non-retail use will not normally be acceptable in Bexleyheath or District Centres whenever vacancy levels already exceed 10% of total units in the centre in question, as the further loss of retail uses will be considered to undermine the retail function of the centre and/or give rise to local traffic and environmental problems. Preference will be given to proposals for non-retail uses that bring back into use a vacant unit already having permission for a non-retail use.
9.50 In applying criterion 4, situations may arise where non-retail uses already occupy 45% of the town centre, but the percentage in the core area is still less than 30%. In such circumstances, any further applications to change from retail to non-retail use in the core area will be resisted if it would result in the total proportion of the frontage occupied or with approval for non-retail uses in the centre as a whole exceeding or further exceeding 45%.
9.51 Criteria 3 and 4 of the policy refer to calculations of the number of average units. In each centre, the width of an average unit has been identified. This figure will be used to identify if a particular outlet is located in half-width, single or double shop unit etc. Where vacancy rates across the core frontage are very high (in excess of 10%), criteria 3 and 4 may, exceptionally, be varied.
In determining planning applications in the defined non core shopping frontages the Council will resist changes of use of shops (Use Class A1) at ground floor level to other uses that would harm the character, viability and vitality of the centre. In particular, proposals will be expected to satisfy all of the following criteria:
- the proposed use is a food and drink outlet (Use Class A3) or a professional or financial service to the public (Use Class A2) or a use that will complement and contribute to the diversity of the services provided in the centre;
- the proposed use will not create or add to a concentration of a particular type of non retail use within an area of non-core frontage where the cumulative effects could undermine the retail function or cause parking and traffic problems, or other adverse effects on local residential amenity and the environment;
- (a) the proposed use is not located next to three or more average units in non retail use or with planning permission for a non-retail use; and
(b) the proposal itself, together with any adjacent existing or permitted non-retail uses, should not create a continuous length of frontage in non-retail uses exceeding three average widths;
- the proposed non-retail use would not increase the proportion of average units in non retail use in the centre as a whole to more than 45% of all units;
- the proposed use would not have an adverse effect on the area's character and environment, or the amenity of occupiers in the vicinity or parking and traffic conditions; and
- the proposal includes a shop style fascia, with an appropriate window display at ground floor level.
Proposals for food and drink outlets (Use Class A3) should in addition satisfy Policy SHO9.
9.52 The policies for core and non-core shopping frontages operate together to sustain and enhance the attractiveness of the town centre as a whole. Non-core frontages are adjacent to the core shopping frontages where a mixture of shopping and service uses is appropriate. A more flexible approach towards changes of use from shops outside the core shopping frontage will be adopted. The criteria used to assess proposals are substantially related and with similar justification, to those in Policy SHO4. Reference should therefore also be made to paragraphs 9.41 to 9.51.
9.53 In applying criterion 2 above, as with Policy SHO4, account will be taken of: the concentration of non-retail uses in areas within the centre; the cumulative impact of further non-retail uses; and vacancy levels in the town centre, as explained in paragraph 9.49 above.
9.54 Government advice notes that it is important that town centres retain their distinct character. Dispersal of non-retail uses within the non-core frontages will be required to help maintain the role of a shopping centre by retaining frontages which continue to be underpinned by retailing to stimulate activity and trade, and retain their retail appearance.
9.55 However, by definition, non-core frontages are generally located at the edges of town centres adjacent to residential and other occupiers. Proposals for non-retail uses in non-core frontages may give rise to particular concern about adverse effects on the amenity and environment of these adjacent occupiers. Criterion 5 of Policy SHO5 will be particularly relevant in this respect, as will Policy SHO9 in respect of proposals for a food and drink use (Class A3).
Changes to non-retail use outside the defined town centres
Within the Neighbourhood Centres defined on the Proposals Map and listed at Appendix G, proposals for non-retail uses at ground floor level will be determined in accordance with the considerations and criteria set out in Policy SHO5.
Outside the defined town and Neighbourhood Centres, the change of use of shops (Use Class A1) to other uses will not normally be permitted if it will reduce the range of A1 use class accommodation in the locality where no alternative convenient shopping facility accessible by foot or public transport exists to meet local needs.
9.56 PPG6 reflects the Council's view that it is very important to maintain and enhance basic shopping facilities at the local level, particularly for the less mobile members of the local community. Neighbourhood Centres may provide a good cross‑section of shops that provide a reasonably full and satisfactory range of local retail facilities and services for a locality. This might include a greengrocer, off licence, baker, butcher, newsagent, small supermarket, chemist and post office as well as a hardware shop and other essential local services. Away from Neighbourhood Centres, individual shops selling food and everyday necessities can be particularly important. The Council cannot regulate, through its planning powers, the type or mix of products sold in any shop or the range of shops at any location, but it will normally resist the loss of any shop unit that is capable of providing economically viable accommodation for local retailing.
9.57 The Council may be prepared to consider the change of use of a retail unit where it is demonstrated to the Council's satisfaction that future retail use of the unit, in whole or in a modified manner, will not be viable. Evidence required will include record of attempts to market the unit on reasonable terms for at least 12 months. Vacancy in itself will not be sufficient evidence. Account will also be taken of the range of units available in the locality.
9.58 Where a change of use is acceptable, preference will be given to medical, community and other uses in Use Class D. Uses within classes A2 and A3 may also be acceptable in view of the services such uses provide to the general public.
Late night uses in town and Neighbourhood Centres
The Council will seek to control proposals likely to cause an unacceptable level of problems affecting the amenity of residents by reason of late night operation, by condition limiting hours of operation.
9.59 With greater affluence and increasing mobility, demand for eating and entertainment facilities has increased. Where late night uses could adversely affect the amenities of surrounding residents, the Council will normally seek to restrict such activities so as to cease by 11.30pm including customers leaving the premises. Additional restrictions will generally be applied on Sundays and other public holidays to protect residential amenity in the morning and at night. This is to minimise the attendant problems of parking, noise, plant and other equipment, etc, which may cause nuisance to residents. The Council will normally seek to ensure such activities cease by 11.00pm in town centres or by 10.30pm in Neighbourhood Centres and elsewhere. Similarly, activities should not commence before 9.00am on these days.
9.60 In certain circumstances, where proposals are in close proximity to residential uses and/or the Council is aware of existing impacts on the amenity of nearby residents, the Council may impose more restrictive conditions for opening hours than suggested above. The times during which a takeaway or delivery service is operated from a restaurant may be subject to additional limitations for reasons of road safety or residential amenity.
9.61 Where appropriate, conditions will be attached to planning permissions limiting such considerations as opening hours and the playing of music. Such uses may be appropriate in the Strategic Centre. If planning conditions are considered inadequate to alleviate any problems, planning permission will be refused.
Policy for all food and drink uses (Use Class A3)
In addition to being in conformity with other relevant policies, including Policies SHO4-SHO8 and BTC3 as appropriate, all proposals for A3 Class uses, regardless of location, will be resisted where permission would result in any of the following adverse effects that could not be overcome by the imposition of appropriate conditions:
- adverse effects on the amenities of residential occupiers by reason of emission of fumes, smell, noise or other disturbance emanating from the premises and its immediate vicinity and/or associated with the use of premises in the surrounding area;
- the creation of traffic or parking problems;
- the proposed use, including related alterations, plant and equipment, will detract from the character or visual amenities of the area; and
- the proposed use will harm, by the cumulative effect of the proposal added to an existing concentration of A3 uses, upon matters such as parking and local residential amenity.
Where adverse effects can be overcome by the imposition of conditions, they may be applied to limit the permission to a specific use within the A3 use class and to the control of hours of opening, noise, emission of smell or fumes, the disposal of refuse, the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises or other matters where these are necessary to protect the environment and local residential amenity.
9.62 In respect of criteria 1 and 3 above, details sufficient to ensure that these requirements can be met, such as waste disposal or ventilation arrangements for restaurants, will normally be required to be submitted and approved as part of the initial application. In other cases, conditions may be imposed. The requirements of visual amenity and minimising the impact of emissions will need to be carefully considered. In other appropriate cases, conditions may be imposed. Where details to overcome potential problems cannot be agreed, a scheme will normally be considered unacceptable.
9.63 In response to the increasing number of applications for changes of use to Class A3 and given their potential impact on residential amenities, the Council will, in certain circumstances, require details to address these matters to be submitted for consideration as part of the original application. Specifically, where applications for A3 uses are proposed in locations with residential uses directly above the premises or in proximity or within Conservation Areas, the Council will require ventilation details to be submitted and approved as part of the initial application. Supplementary Design Guidance for ventilation equipment will be published to assist applicants in providing this information.
9.64 In respect of criteria 2 and 4 above, changes of use can sometimes create new concentrations of restaurants and takeaway food outlets or add to existing difficulties in an area. The impact of an individual proposed use will, therefore, need to be considered in the context of the cumulative pattern of existing uses and the established character or problems in the area. If a hot food delivery service is intended then applicants should indicate where any related cycles or motor vehicles are to be parked between delivery duties. The use of the public highway or open forecourts for this purpose is unlikely to be acceptable to the Council.
9.65 The Use Classes Order 1987 describes A3 uses as those for the sale of food or drink for consumption on the premises or of hot food off the premises. A broad range of uses therefore fall within the Class, these can be categorised as:
- restaurants, predominantly used as the main purpose of a visit to the town centre;
- cafes (principally day time);
- fast-food restaurants (often operated for long opening hours by both independent and national operators); and
- predominantly takeaway operators, pubs, clubs and wine bars.
9.66 Although the Use Classes Order allows changes of use between these various categories without requiring planning permission, the Council considers that such a change would often result in a quite different impact on the surroundings, which would not always be desirable. The Council may, therefore, impose appropriate conditions restricting the use within the Use Class or limiting the operation to minimise any adverse impact or maximise any positive contributions to the area. Close regard to the Guidelines on Ventilation Equipment will help to minimise the chances of neighbours being adversely affected by emissions from food preparation activities. Conditions will only be imposed where they are necessary, relevant to planning, relevant to the development permitted and reasonable in all other respects. Additionally, certain types of use will also require different forms of licence and approval by other authorities as appropriate.
9.67 Planning permission will be refused where problems, as indicated in the Policy above, would be created or where suitable conditions cannot be agreed.
Motor vehicle and caravan sales
The Council will resist proposals for motor vehicle showrooms and vehicle sales areas unless it can be demonstrated that they:
- will not disrupt the free flow of traffic and pedestrian movement;
- will provide adequate, well laid out car parking and display facilities within the site and appropriate boundary treatments;
- will not adversely effect the amenities of local residents; and
- will not conflict with other policies in this Plan.
Operators of existing car sales establishments are encouraged to undertake investment in the premises to secure environmental improvements.
9.68 Because of the detrimental impact that car showrooms and display areas can have on residential and shopping areas and the free flow of pedestrian and vehicular movement, these uses will only be supported where there will not be an adverse impact on the amenity and character of the surrounding area and all the criteria identified are satisfied. These uses are often characterised by forecourt parking, extensive areas of obtrusive advertising and glazing, and poor boundary treatments. These can combine to detract from the character and appeal of shopping and residential areas.
Indoor and open markets will be acceptable subject to the following criteria:
- the site of the market is accessible to vehicles and those arriving on foot or by public transport and there is no adverse effect on the residential amenity of the surrounding area;
- neighbouring uses are not adversely affected by disturbance generated by the operation of the market or any related activity;
- adequate arrangements are made for collection and disposal of refuse, parking for customers and traders, servicing and storage of stalls;
- there is sufficient capacity on the surrounding road network to accommodate the traffic generated; and
- that setting out and packing away of the market can be achieved without adverse effects on residential amenity or the safety and free flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
9.69 The Council will permit markets subject to the proposal meeting all of the identified environmental criteria. Markets extend the quantity and range of shopping facilities available, and can add to the diversity and vitality of shopping facilities. They can also generate an undesirable impact on the surrounding area through noise and other disturbance, especially if adequate arrangements cannot be made for them or if they are poorly‑managed. Legal agreements may be required to help ensure a satisfactory level of management. Any new proposal may also require other approvals, including an Act of Parliament, to overcome any market charter restrictions that apply.
Enhancing shopping centres
The Council will investigate opportunities for further environmental improvements in shopping centres.
Developers, current and future occupiers of shopping centres will be encouraged to enter into environmental improvement partnership schemes.
9.70 It is the Council's intention to improve the environment of the borough's shopping centres. Environmental improvements within shopping centres currently form an important element of the Council's Environmental Improvement Programme. Further schemes will be prepared as resources become available. More specifically, schemes that will substantially enhance the environment and the shopping and related functions of an area will be encouraged. The Council has limited resources for such schemes. It is the Council's experience that limited resources are most effectively and efficiently employed when targeted at a limited number of priority schemes, or where used in partnership with other resources. In particular, the Council welcomes opportunities to work in partnership on such schemes.
The Council will promote town centres' management in partnership with local businesses and the community to help promote and enhance the vitality and viability of town centres.
9.71 It is recognised that the vitality and viability of town centres can best be promoted in partnership with local businesses and the local community. This will help to co-ordinate promotion and to encourage partnership involvement in improving the environment of town centres. To secure this, as resources permit, the Council will establish Forums for each of the major town centres.
The Council will resist proposals for new commercial buildings, which fail to provide adequate access for off-street servicing and refuse collection, and will encourage the improvement of servicing arrangements in existing developments as and when opportunities arise.
9.72 Poor access and servicing arrangements can disrupt traffic and inconvenience customers, passers‑by and business operators. The Council will seek to take advantage of any future opportunities to improve off-street access to commercial properties for servicing, with the aim of reducing traffic congestion to provide a better environment for pedestrians in main shopping streets. The Council will perform a co‑ordinating role, channelling private resources and initiatives.
The Council will promote improvements to the accessibility of shopping centres, for private and public transport and pedestrians.
9.73 The Council is concerned to maintain and improve access to town centres and will promote a safer, more convenient and more pleasant environment for shoppers and other users of the borough's shopping centres. The Council's ongoing programmes of parking and traffic management will also seek to address the needs of residents living close to shopping centres. Improvements will be co-ordinated with environmental improvements carried out under Policy SHO12 to achieve specific objectives for individual shopping centres. The Council will seek to improve the flow of traffic, and enhance on and off‑street public parking facilities. Equally, it will promote improvements of benefit to pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transport; the needs of the young, wheelchair users and other less agile individuals will be carefully considered.
Proposals for new or replacement frontages, alterations or advertisements will be required to respect the scale, character and design of the individual property or group of properties and area generally, be accessible to all potential users and accord with any approved guidelines. Proposals to listed buildings or in Conservation Areas will require a higher level of care and detailed design.
9.74 The attractiveness and character of the borough's shops can, in part, be attributed to well‑designed shop fronts and advertisements, features particularly important to the environment and amenity of pedestrians. Good design on individual schemes can also make a direct contribution to upgrading overall townscape quality and can enhance commercial benefits for traders. Accordingly, the Council wishes to see a high standard of design throughout the borough. New frontages and advertisements should respect the original and surrounding buildings, incorporate a limited range of materials and colours and be accessible to all shop users. All businesses providing goods or services to the public should review the accessibility of their premises in order to achieve compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995. Advice is available from the Disability Rights Commission. Further guidance in respect of shop front design is contained in the appended Design and Development Control Guidelines for shop fronts and advertisements.
Use of upper floor accommodation
The use of upper floor accommodation for small offices within the defined Major District Centres and the Sidcup Station Neighbourhood Centre will normally be encouraged except where:
- the proposals would result in the loss of residential premises capable of providing satisfactory residential accommodation; or
- servicing and parking arrangements are inadequate; and/or
- there is conflict with Policy E1.
The Council will encourage the use of upper floor accommodation for residential purposes, either through re-use of areas previously designed for residential accommodation or conversion of areas from other uses, provided that:
- the accommodation created enjoys satisfactory amenities for residential purposes including adequate floor space, daylight, ventilation, sound insulation, etc;
- the accommodation has an independent access without going through the premises below;
- there is adequate provision for servicing, refuse storage, etc; and
- there is no conflict with other policies in this plan.
9.75 The Council wishes to promote the efficient use of land and therefore will give favourable consideration to proposals to optimise the use of upper floor accommodation above shops that may be under-occupied. Upper floor accommodation in Major District Centres or the Sidcup Station Neighbourhood Centre may be particularly appropriate for small office uses.
9.76 This will create opportunities for local employment by increasing the supply of accommodation for small office users in appropriate locations. Sidcup Station Neighbourhood Centre, Erith, Crayford and Sidcup are particularly appropriate because these are Preferred Office Locations (see Policy E14). Policy E15 more generally covers small-scale office development.
9.77 However, in accordance with Policy H2, the loss of residential accommodation will not normally be permitted. The Council fully endorses the aim of the London Plan to protect the existing housing stock and supports the role of housing in town centres. To this end, the Council will support the return to residential use or conversions to residential use of floors above shops. Such accommodation is particularly appropriate for non-family housing in the Major District Centres and provides a supply of affordable lower cost accommodation. A more flexible approach to the minimum requirements for residential conversions set out in Policy H11 and Design and Development Control Guideline Number 3 may be appropriate in determining proposals for residential accommodation above shops in these town centres. These proposals will have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
9.78 However, in all cases, it is important that accommodation provides adequate amenities (in accordance with Policy H11) to ensure an acceptable quality of life for occupiers and neighbours.
Policies for individual town centres
9.79 The borough's town centres perform an important economic and social role. They provide a focus for a range of activities in locations easily accessible to all the borough's residents. A viable and wide range of shopping and leisure facilities is important to the diverse role of town centres. Ongoing investment and enhancement will be necessary if town centres are to maintain their shopping role and vital place in the social and economic life of the community. Office and other employment generating developments, at a scale appropriate to the particular town centre, may be permitted in Major District Centres, subject to parking and amenity considerations. These provide local employment opportunities and stimulate investment and spending in town centres (see Policies E14 and E15).
9.80 Policies for Bexleyheath Town Centre are considered in Chapter 11.
9.81 Sidcup developed as a result of the spread of suburban development and is the most important shopping centre in the south of the borough. The defined town centre and the Sidcup Station Neighbourhood Centre, taken together, represent an important, principally office‑based, employment area. Policies identify the vicinity of Sidcup Station as appropriate for office development on suitable sites (Policy E14) and premises above shops (Policy SHO18), subject to other policies in the Plan, in order to take advantage of the good rail transport and any supply of under‑used floor space at this location.
9.82 Following a report to the Development Committee in 1987, which examined means to enhance the vitality and viability of Sidcup town centre, the Council resolved to:
- undertake a programme of environmental improvements in the town centre;
- reaffirm the policy to resist further loss of retail uses in the prime shopping area;
- improve the shopping provision in Sidcup town centre through negotiations to achieve the development of a new supermarket, and further unit shops, by acting as a catalyst for further improvements; and
- investigate other improvements to the town centre, including parking and access and measures to create a focal point within the centre.
9.83 An environmental improvement scheme has been undertaken on the forecourt area in front of Elm Parade where additional seating, trees and a raised brick shrub bed have been provided. In line with Policies SHO12 and SHO13 the Council will pursue further schemes as appropriate.
9.84 Sidcup has been characterised by a mix of retailers, offering both durable and convenience shopping. This mix includes both independent retailers and multiples. In recent years it has suffered an erosion of its convenience trade to such a point that it is becoming difficult to maintain its position in the shopping hierarchy.
9.85 There was a proposal in the adopted Plan of 1996 to develop a modern food store on the Grassington Road site behind the High Street with links to the High Street via Nelson Place. This has now been achieved with a new supermarket, access road and additional town centre car parking being opened in 2003.
The Council will promote and enhance Sidcup town centre as an attractive and viable town centre.
9.86 The Council is committed to ensuring that Sidcup retains and enhances its role as the major shopping centre serving the southern part of the borough. It will continue to place a high priority on safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and viability and upgrading the environment of the town centre.
The core shopping frontage will be:
- 1, Nisbett Walk; and
- 2‑106 (even) and 1‑91 (odd), and The Blue Rose P.H., Sidcup High Street;
The non-core shopping frontage will be:
- 14 Church Road;
- 1 Elm Road;
- 2a Hadlow Road;
- 61a Sidcup High Street;
- 1-4 (consec) The Mews, 1, 3, 3a, 7, 13-17 (odd) and 10-16 (even) Hatherley Road;
- 89-107 (odd), 108, 1-10 (consec) and 20 and 21 Elm Parade, Main Road;
- 1, Jenner Close;
- Garage in Nelson Road;
- 2-5 (consec), Nisbett Walk;
- 1-15 (odd) and 2 Rectory Lane;
- 1-15 (odd) Market Parade, 1-15 (consec) St. Johns Parade, 1-6 (consec) Invicta Parade, Sidcup High Street; and
- 25-43 (odd) and 2-10 (even) Sidcup Hill.
9.87 The core shopping area consolidates a recognisable central core in the shopping area between Station Road and St. John's Road. Of the four Major District Centres in the borough, Sidcup has the highest proportion of non‑retail uses within core frontages reflecting its important service and leisure role in the south of the borough. Further changes to inappropriate non‑retail use will be resisted in order to maintain Sidcup town centre's main shopping function in accordance with Policy SHO4.
9.88 Crayford dates back to Roman times, when the original settlement was probably situated around St. Paulinus Church and Crayford High Street. Activity is now focused on Crayford Road and facing Waterside Gardens in buildings dating mainly from the inter‑war period, and at the Sainsbury site, off Roman Way.
9.89 There are a number of listed buildings and other buildings with important associations with the local history of Crayford and the munitions industry. Positive features of the local townscape include strong form and building lines and uniformity of scale and materials along Crayford Road and High Street, which are particularly clear when viewed as Crayford is entered from the surrounding higher ground. This form and character is however lost around the road circulatory system behind the main shopping area on Crayford Road. There are also some important leisure and community facilities in Crayford including the Greyhound Stadium, Sports Centre, Town Hall, Library, Clinic and Pop‑In Parlour.
The core shopping frontage will be:
- 1‑11 (consec) The Parade, Crayford Way;
- 116‑158 (even) and 167‑193 (odd) Crayford Road;
- 1a Swaislands Drive; and
- Stadium Way (J. Sainsbury and Homebase stores, as indicated on Map 9.2).
The non-core shopping frontage will be:
- 5-11, 11a, 13-23, 25b, 27-35 (odd), r/o 29, 37 (Crayford Arms PH), 53 (Duke's Head PH), and 2-36, 60, 62-74 (even), Crayford High Street;
- 159-165 (odd), 104, 106, 110, Clinic, Town Hall theatre, Crayford Road;
- Crayford Social Club, Crayford Way;
- 2-10 (even), London Road;
- Hire Shop and petrol filling station, Stadium Way;
- 4-12, 12a, 16-34 (even) Station Road; and
- 1-17 (odd), petrol filling station, 2-16 (even) Waterside.
9.90 The main focus of shopping activity is on Crayford Road, the Parade fronting Waterside Gardens and the Sainsbury site. Older retailing areas along the High Street to the north‑west have been in decline for some time. The Sainsbury store and retail warehouses enable Crayford to draw trade from a wider area in addition to more local trade.
The Council will promote and enhance Crayford town centre as an attractive and viable town centre.
9.91 Public consultation has revealed that there is concern about the future of Crayford town centre. Particular concerns include: the impact of further shopping proposals on established shopping facilities; community facilities; traffic and industrial development; and townscape and heritage, including the Town Hall building.
The Council will seek to enhance Crayford to maintain its social and economic role as an attractive and viable Major District Centre serving the local community.
In partnership with residents, shoppers, retailers, businesses, landowners and other interested parties, the Council will prepare a Strategy and Action Plan to guide the future use and development of sites in and adjoining the town centre. The Strategy and Action Plan will have regard to the following objectives:
- to promote a comprehensive and co-ordinated strategy for the future development of Crayford town centre;
- to improve vehicular and pedestrian circulation, public transport access and pedestrian links to the centre; and
- to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the design of all new buildings and spaces to ensure they are in harmony with one another in terms of height, scale, building line, articulation, roofline and materials.
9.92 A Strategy and Action Plan, prepared in partnership with landowners, developers, retailers and the local community, will ensure that the town centre is developed according to a shared vision of the future. It will enable a more co-ordinated approach to improving vehicular and pedestrian circulation and to the design of buildings.
9.93 The Council has approved a planning brief for the development of land to the rear of the Town Hall and library. The proposals in the brief will be reviewed and incorporated, as appropriate, into the Strategy and Action Plan.
9.94 Focused around the 1960's redevelopment Erith town centre acts as the Major District Centre for the northern part of the borough. The open market increases the variety of goods available and improves the centre's attractiveness to shoppers. However, the Council considers that the centre requires major enhancement if it is to continue to fulfil its role. Regeneration within the catchment area of the town centre in the form of major housing and employment development offers the potential for increased turnover and thereby investment in the regeneration of the town centre, shopping facilities and greater use of other facilities such as the theatre, public houses and other leisure facilities.
The Council will promote and enhance Erith town centre as an attractive and viable town centre.
9.95 The Council is firmly committed to ensuring that Erith becomes a first‑class shopping centre for this part of the borough and will continue to place a high priority on upgrading the environment of Erith town centre. (See Policy SHO(ERI)4 below).
The Council will seek to enhance the relationship between the town centre and the riverside.
9.96 Historically, Erith town centre has close connections with the river. Bexley Road acts as a barrier between the riverside and the town centre. If the potential of the Erith Riverside and other local amenities is to be fully realised it will be necessary to create a strong link between the centre and the riverside.
The Council will promote the development of the Walnut Tree Road / Stonewood Road site shown on the Proposals Map for a development compatible with its location within the town centre.
9.97 This site, which includes the former tram and Council works depot, occupies a prominent site within the town centre but is separated from the main business area by Walnut Tree Road and steep banks along the eastern and south‑eastern boundaries. To the south‑west is Bronze Age Way with good access to Erith Station under the new road. The site is available for development and a Planning Brief has been prepared, which has taken the opportunity to examine its use for a wide variety of purposes, including commercial, office and business uses, residential and privately funded recreational uses. The Council will seek a use that maximises the potential of the site, both in terms of employment and economic support for Erith and adjoining areas and is beneficial to Erith town centre.
The Council will continue to work in partnership with the Erith Town Forum to implement the Erith Strategy and Action Plan and, in particular, to:
- seek the refurbishment or redevelopment of the Erith Town Square precinct to a plan agreed with the owners;
- secure the beneficial redevelopment of town centre sites, including Stonewood Road, Erith Health Centre and the remaining development sites on the former Erith Deep Wharf;
- improve the image of Erith, enhance its general appearance and promote it in order to maximise the benefits of new investment; and
- improve actual and perceived levels of security and safety by day and night.
9.98 During 1995/96 the Council prepared the Erith Town Centre Strategy and Action Plan in partnership with the local community. The Plan was based on the vision that by the early 21st Century, Erith would be transformed into a revitalised town centre at the heart of the local community. The Council was able to use it to help attract £3 million of Government funding to begin the process of revitalising Erith. Significant progress has been made in implementing the Erith Strategy and Action Plan, but more is needed to realise the vision. Policy SHO(ERI)4 sets out the broad priorities agreed with the Erith Town Forum and the local community. With the development of the Morrisons superstore on the former Erith Deep Wharf site, shopping facilities have been significantly improved for Erith residents. The original Town Square precinct is being redeveloped to provide a revitalised centre that can attract shoppers in greater numbers and is suited to the needs of today's retailers.
The core shopping frontage will be:
- 1-42 (consec), Town Square;
- 25-31(odd) and 28-48 (even), Pier Road;
- 12-18 (even), Cross Street. and
- Morrison's Superstore, James Watt Way.
The non-core shopping frontage will be:
- 35-41(odd) Bexley Road;
- 2-8 (even) Cross Street;
- 1 (Riverside Swimming Centre), Running Horses PH, 89, Signmakers, 97-115 (odd), 36, 44, Playhouse Theatre and former Bingo Hall, Erith High Street;
- 4 (Social Club), 14 (McDonalds) and Petrol Filling Station, James Watt Way
- 1 (Squash Club), Manor Road;
- 1, 1a, 3, 7, 7a, 9, 11, 11a, 13-23 (odd), 23a, Health Centre and 70, Pier Road;
- 7 (Job Centre), Queens Road; and
- 1, Library and Town Hall, Walnut Tree Road.
9.99 The core area seeks to ensure that shop units in and around the redeveloped Town Square provide a busy and lively atmosphere and a pleasant shopping environment.
9.100 Historically, the main east-west traffic route through the borough contributed to the growth of Welling, which, after Bexleyheath, is the largest of the borough's town centres. The centre has a relatively high proportion of comparison goods floor space and also functions to serve the local needs of its immediate catchment population and areas to the north served by the good bus links. The railway station lies within easy reach of the town centre.
The core shopping frontage will be:
- 1-9 (consec), 9a, 19-28 (consec) Embassy Court, 71-113 (odd) and 102-146 (even), Welling High Street;
- 1-37 (odd) and 2-36 (even), Upper Wickham Lane;
- 1-57 (odd) and 2-50 (even), Bellegrove Road; and
- 2a, Hook Lane.
The non-core shopping frontage will be:
- 59a-c, 69-113, 113a, 115-173 (odd), 175a, Library and toilets, 52-70, 70a, 72-96, 98a-b, 100-114, 114a, 116-122, 122b, 124-146, 146a-d (even), Bellegrove Road;
- 1-1b, 3, 3a, 5, 5a, Central Avenue;
- 39-51 (odd), 51a, 38-56 (even), 60, Upper Wickham Lane; and
- 19, 21, 21b, 25, 25b, 27-69 (odd), 42-62 (even), Welling High Street.
9.101 The shopping area in Welling stretches for almost a mile along Bellegrove Road, with the majority of shops on the fringes being secondary in nature. The Council will seek to retain the focus of retail activity in the defined core frontage.
9.102 The Council is committed to ensuring that Welling retains and enhances its role as the main shopping centre serving the western part of the borough. It will continue to place a high priority on safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and viability, and upgrading the environment of the town centre.
The Council will promote and enhance Welling town centre as an attractive and viable town centre.
9.103 Blackfen is an interwar suburban shopping centre with some larger shops. The Safeway store in Westwood Lane plays a significant role in sustaining the centre's important role in the local community. Links between this store, the car parks and the core shopping frontage in Blackfen Road are particularly important. A large proportion of car sales and motor‑cycle/cycle shops have characterised Blackfen as the borough's main centre for vehicle sales. However, it is considered that Blackfen's role as a District Centre could be undermined if these uses are permitted to further erode the retail function and vitality of the centre.
The core shopping frontage will be:
- Safeway and 253-267 (odd), Westwood Lane;
- 1-24 (consec), Wellington Parade, 1-19 (consec), Blackfen Parade, 226-248, 250-256 (even) and 258-258a, Blackfen Road; and
- 280-282 (even), Days Lane.
The non-core shopping frontage will be:
- 219-259, 273, 309-315 (odd), r/o 311 and 313, 190-224 (even), Blackfen Road;
- 1-5, 5a, 6-9 (consec), Gloucester Parade, Blackfen Road;
- 1a Wellington Avenue; 30-36 (consec), Wellington Parade, Blackfen Road; and
- 251, 300-314 (even), toilets, Westwood Lane.
9.104 The core frontage consolidates a recognisable central core in the shopping area close to the junction of Westwood Lane/Blackfen Road.
9.105 Many of the buildings are mid-Victorian in origin and the centre has a unique 'village' atmosphere. Belvedere serves quite an extensive catchment area and serves both the immediate residential area and car borne shopping. The presence of two supermarkets along Nuxley Road and a public car park promotes Belvedere's function as a District Centre; these are particularly important due to the location of Belvedere in an area somewhat remote from other town centres and Bexleyheath.
The core shopping frontage will be:
- 4-8b, 16 and 18, 24-42, 52-80 (even), 7-25, 45-75a (odd), Nuxley Road; and 1and 2-14 (even), Albert Road.
The non-core shopping frontage will be:
- 15 and 18a, 22, 24, 24a, 26-38 (even), 42, 54, Albert Road; and
- 44, 48, 29-39 (odd), 77, 79, Nuxley Road.
9.106 The core shopping frontage has been defined to consolidate the two recognisable concentrations of shops at either end of Nuxley Road. The location of a church and several houses account for the split in core frontage but reflect its local character.
9.107 Northumberland Heath is the smallest of the borough's District Centres and contains a variety of interesting turn of the century buildings. Comparison goods occupy almost half of the retail floor space. The centre is surrounded by residential properties that depend on the centre to provide daily convenience goods and services. The two supermarkets in the centre have helped to sustain the centre's catchment population.
The core shopping frontage will be:
- 204-252 (even) and 233-289 (odd), Bexley Road; and
- 2-6 (even), Mill Road.
The non-core shopping frontage will be:
- 209-217, 229-231, 291-313 (petrol station and shop), 315, 317, 321-327, 337-373 (odd), and 180-196 (even), 200, 202, 270 (Royal Oak PH), 322 (Duke PH), Bexley Road; and
- 8, Pop-in parlour and Library, Mill Road.
9.108 The core shopping frontage consolidates a recognisable central area around the junction of Mill Road.
9.109 Old Bexley's shopping function is to serve the immediate local population, on a daily basis, for convenience goods. It also provides a wide range of restaurants and small businesses that have grown up in and around the centre and which are conveniently served by a railway station, good public car parking and buses.
The Council will seek to attract high quality retailers and promote Bexley Village as a specialist shopping centre, while maintaining its fundamental role as a District Centre.
9.110 Bexley Village evolved around the river crossing point and grew slowly up to the Nineteenth Century. After the arrival of the railway, it expanded rapidly, but its historic origins are still discernible today contributing to its unique and attractive character reflected in its status as a Conservation Area. The quality of the retailers and the historic character of Bexley have also encouraged the centre's role as a speciality shopping centre with a wider catchment area than that for its convenience goods trade, without prejudicing its fundamental role as a district shopping centre. The Council will seek to enhance this specialist role.
9.111 Old Bexley in particular suffers from a heavy presence of vehicles and congestion. Construction of the Bexley bypass (Policy T6) will benefit Old Bexley by reducing the high volume of traffic in the village and will provide significant relief and the opportunity for traffic restrictions and associated environmental upgrading of the centre. However, this is a long-term proposal and the Council has therefore sought to ameliorate existing problems through its programmes of highway and environmental improvements.
The core shopping frontage will be:
- 30-72 (even), 74 (The George PH), 37-51a, and 67-75 (odd), Bexley High Street; and
- 1-7 (consec), Bourne Parade and 2, Bourne Road.
The non-core shopping frontage will be:
- 53-59, 59a, 61-65, Freemantle Hall, 77, 77a-b, 79, 83-91 (odd), 2-28, 76-84 (even), Bexley High Street;
- 7a Bourne Parade, 1-13 (odd), Bourne Road; and
- 1-6 (consec), Mill Row.
9.112 The core shopping frontage is defined to consolidate a recognisable central area around Bexley High Street and Bourne Parade. Further changes of use from retailing will be resisted to maintain this concentration and preserve the District Centre's role in the local community.