Town centres versus out of town locations

Property Management

ISSN: 0263-7472

Article publication date: 1 March 2000




(2000), "Town centres versus out of town locations", Property Management, Vol. 18 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Town centres versus out of town locations

Town centres versus out of town locations

Keywords: Retail, Towncentres, Out of town centres, Planning policy

Migration from the high street to out of town retail locations is not the threat that policy makers assume. New research by Colliers Erdman Lewis (CEL) shows that retail migration to out of town parks is low and only growing very slowly.

The presumption of planning policy over the last decade is that retail migration has been at such a scale that it undermines the vitality and viability of our town centres. The CEL research, which is based on a unique database covering all 479 retail parks in the UK, challenges that presumption.

The research shows that:

  • High street retail traders account for just 11 per cent of out of town floorspace (up from 7 per cent a decade ago).

  • The floorspace occupied by high street retailers out of town equates to less than 2 per cent of in-town retail floorspace.

  • Fashion retailing, which has sparked much debate and comment, does not exist on 97 per cent of the UK's retail parks.

  • The fashion floorspace that does exist in out of town locations is equivalent to less than 0.5 per cent of high street retail floorspace.

The Colliers Erdman Lewis study highlights the fact that the threat that high streets would empty, without the firm hand of planning policy, has been shown to have been greatly exaggerated.

Richard Doidge comments: "Planning policies have a major effect on land and property markets - and values. A rationale for both PPG6 and PPG13 was to stop high street retailers moving out of town. It is up to the policy makers to have clear evidence that a problem exists before they seek to solve it".

The term "out of town" is used to encompass all types of retail locations outside of town centres (i.e. edge of centre, out of centre and out of town). The research focuses on non-food shopping, which is generally recognised as forming the mainstay of most town centre retail economies and is the sector characterised by most of the migrating high street retailers. Accordingly, food stores have been excluded from the analysis, as well as service and leisure uses, and voids.

The definition of High Street retailers excludes those open use retailers that are new trading formats specifically designed for the out of town market and have never really traded from a high street location; for example, Toys 'R' Us and Petsmart.

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