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Appendix 4 – Retail planning definitions

Primary and Secondary Frontage Zones (policy DM20)

The following primary and secondary frontage zones are defined for the purposes of policy DM20. The detailed management of uses within these frontages will be further refined through a supplementary planning document to be prepared alongside the submission version of the DM Policies local plan, setting out the indicative minimum proportion of A1 retail usage to be sought at ground floor level in each zone which would be necessary to help maintain its vitality, viability and diversity, and other planning considerations appropriate to different parts of the centre outside defined frontages. The SPD will be reviewed as necessary to respond to changes in the character and function of different areas of the centre over the plan period.

           Primary retail area core frontage zones
PC01  Gentlemans Walk/Haymarket/Brigg Street
PC02  Castle Mall, levels 1 and 2
PC03  Chapelfield, upper and lower merchants halls and St Stephens Arcade

           Frontage zones in the rest of the primary retail area
PR01  Back of the Inns/Castle Street area
PR02  The Lanes East (Bedford Street/Bridewell Alley)
PR03  St Stephens Street/Westlegate
PR04  Castle Meadow north
PR05  Chapelfield Plain
PR06  Timberhill/Red Lion Street
           Secondary retail areas
SR01  The Lanes West (Pottergate/Dove Street/Lower Goat Lane)
SR02  Upper St Giles
SR03  St Benedicts
SR04  Elm Hill
SR05  London Street (east)
SR06  Brazen Gate
           Large District Centres
LD01  Anglia Square, Magdalen Street and St Augustine’s Street
LD02  Riverside

District and local centres (Policy DM21)

The following district and local centres are defined for the purposes of policy DM21.

          Existing and proposed district retail centres
DC01 Bowthorpe Main Centre
DC02 Drayton Road
DC03 Eaton Centre
DC04 Plumstead Road
DC05 Aylsham Road/Mile Cross Road
DC06 Earlham House
DC07 The Larkman
DC08 Dereham Road/Distillery Square
DC09 Hall Road/Sandy Lane (Harford Place) (proposed)
DC10 Sprowston Road/Shipfield

          Existing and proposed local retail centres
LC01 Hall Road/Trafalgar Street
LC02 Hall Road/Queens Road
LC03 Hall Road/Southwell Road
LC04 Grove Road
LC05 Suffolk Square
LC06 Unthank Road
LC07 St Augustines Gate
LC09 Aylsham Road/Junction Road
LC10 Aylsham Road/Glenmore Gardens
LC11 Aylsham Road/Boundary Road
LC12 Woodcock Road
LC13 Catton Grove Road /Ring Road
LC14 Magdalen Road/Waterloo Road
LC15 Sprowston Road/Silver Road
LC17 Bishop Bridge Road
LC18 Earlham West Centre
LC19 Colman Road/The Avenues
LC20 Colman Road/The Parade
LC21 Woodgrove Parade
LC22 St John's Close/Hall Road
LC23 Tuckswood Centre
LC24 Witard Road,
LC25 Clancy Road, Heartsease
LC27 Long John Hill
LC28 Magdalen Road/Clarke Road
LC29 Aylsham Road/Copenhagen Way
LC30 St Stephens Road

Note that the omission of local centres numbered LC08 and LC16 in the above list is intentional. Neighbourhood centres at Dereham Road/Distillery Square and Sprowston Road/Shipfield (formerly coded LC08 and LC16 respectively) have been upgraded from local to district centre status following the completion of larger local foodstores in recent years. The Dereham Road/Distillery Square centre is now coded DC08 and its district centre status is reflected in the retail hierarchy set out in JCS policy 19, whilst the former Sprowston Road local centre has been re-designated as a district centre with reference DC10 following development of a new local foodstore in 2013. The council has opted not to renumber the remaining local centres to enable easier comparisons with historic local centre data.

Indicative scales for district and local centre development, and indicative thresholds for the purposes of sequential and impact testing for main town centre use proposals outside centres (policy DM18)

Advice in the NPPF states:

Local planning authorities should apply a sequential test to planning applications for main town centre uses that are not in an existing centre and are not in accordance with an up-to-date Local Plan. They should require applications for main town centre uses to be located in town centres, then in edge of centre locations and only if suitable sites are not available should out of centre sites be considered. When considering edge of centre and out of centre proposals, preference should be given to accessible sites that are well connected to the town centre. Applicants and local planning authorities should demonstrate flexibility on issues such as format and scale (paragraph 24).

Policy 19 of the Joint Core Strategy sets out the defined hierarchy of centres which applies in Greater Norwich, with Norwich city centre at the  top of the hierarchy, followed by town centres and large district centres, district centres and local centres. For Norwich these centres are defined in the table above and identified on the Policies map. Although specifying the hierarchy itself, the JCS does not specify indicative scales of development which would be appropriate at each level within it.  

The NPPF further states that:

When assessing applications for retail, leisure and office development outside of town centres, which are not in accordance with an up-to-date Local Plan, local planning authorities should require an impact assessment if the development is over a proportionate, locally set floorspace threshold (if there is no locally set threshold, the default threshold is 2,500 sq. m).This should include assessment of:

  • the impact of the proposal on existing, committed and planned public and private investment in a centre or centres in the catchment area of the proposal; and
  • the impact of the proposal on town centre vitality and viability, including local consumer choice and trade in the town centre and wider area, up to five years from the time the application is made. For major schemes where the full impact will not be realised in five years, the impact should also be assessed up to ten years from the time the application is made. (paragraph 26)

Principles for the acceptance of main town centre uses (in terms of both location and scale) are set out in Policy DM18 of this plan. It is important to ensure that development for main town centre uses will result in a pattern of services and facilities which is located sustainably and accessibly to the local population, particularly by being readily accessible by means of transport other than the car. To do this they should be both sequentially suitable (i.e. sited in the right places at the most appropriate level of the hierarchy) and provided at a scale appropriate to the centre in which they would be located and the catchment they would serve.

It is also critical to ensure that  where main town centre uses are proposed outside centres, the impact of the proposal on the vitality and viability of existing and proposed centres in Norwich can be properly assessed, taking account of the particular characteristics and scales of development prevalent in those centres. This will generally mean that an impact assessment will be required for scales of development which exceed the indicative scale of development deemed appropriate to that level of the JCS hierarchy. Since district centres in Norwich are typically smaller than those found in larger conurbations (more akin to large local centres) the 2500 sq. m default scale set by the NPPF is considered too high for local circumstances.

For the purposes of this plan (unless local evidence indicates otherwise), the maximum indicative floorspace in individual units considered acceptable for main town centre uses in centres defined in the hierarchy will be:  

Large district centres

No specific threshold, proposals considered in relation to the requirements of policy DM18
District centres

1,000 sq. m gross internal area
Local centres          

500 sq. m gross internal area

unless the principle of development at a larger scale has already been accepted through the grant of planning permission or allocation in the Site allocations plan, and is justified by evidence.

Proposals for main town centre uses where the proposal is located outside of an existing or proposed defined centre will be required to be accompanied by a sequential site suitability assessment. Where the use is proposed within a defined employment area, this should include justification for the use in terms of its appropriateness to the character and function of the employment area and/or show that the proposed use is ancillary to or associated with an existing use already on the employment area

In addition, an assessment of the impact of the proposal on existing and proposed defined centres should be submitted where any proposal outside of a defined centre would exceed 1,000 sq. m gross internal area. This relatively low threshold reflects the proven successful approach in the previous City of Norwich Replacement local plan is considered appropriate for Norwich since the scale of district centres is typically smaller than average (except in the case of purpose-built or expanded centres at Bowthorpe and Eaton) and impact would be evident from moderate scales of development. Further justification is provided in the Retail and Town Centres topic paper supporting this local plan. 

The applicable defined area to be used for sequential site assessments where the development could be accommodated in the city centre is:

For A1 retail floorspace, the most sequentially preferable location is the city centre retail area, comprising the primary and secondary retail areas;

For leisure and evening economy uses; the most sequentially preferable location is the city centre leisure area, subject to proposals for late night uses being restricted to the Late Night Activity Zone (policy DM23). Evening economy uses can, however, be accepted throughout the city centre where consistent with other policies.

For other main town centre uses the most sequentially preferable location is the city centre as a whole (as defined on the city centre Policies map inset), with preference being given to the Office Development Priority Area for proposals involving new office floorspace (Policy DM19).

For a map of Norwich retail areas and retail warehouse parks, please click here.(opens as pdf)