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What is the future for the UK’s town centres and retail planning?

Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 9:00AM - 4:30PM
Prospero House (etc Venues), 241 Borough High St, London SE1 1GA
£349 for RTPI members (From £199 with a season ticket)
£199 for licentiate members and independent consultants; £140 for students, unemployed and retired; £449 standard price
RTPI Conferences

Britain’s city and town centres are facing a multitude of challenges to their future vitality and viability. Many of our High Streets are characterised by falling retail sales, reduced footfall, increased business failures and rising vacancies.  The growth of Internet shopping and multi-channel retailing also means that many retailers are actively seeking to reduce rather than increase their store portfolios. At the same time the competition from existing and new out-of-centre larger format retail and mixed use schemes is growing. On top of this Brexit has created uncertainty and confusion, and could tip the country back into recession, with knock-on effects to planned and future new investment and development in our town centres. 

This briefing & workshop will review the impact of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) and recent case law on retail planning and town centre development. Presentations will be illustrated throughout with case study examples of how to regenerate, fund, manage and promote successful and ‘fit for purpose’ town centres and place for the 21st Century.

Benefits of attending:

At the end of this event attendees will:

  • Understand the impact to date of the NPPF, PPG and other policy initiatives on plan-making and development management decisions
  • Assess the main trends affecting the retail sector; including the threat of Internet shopping, and what the future holds for our town centres and high streets
  • Through case study examples, understand what initiatives can help to attract new public and private sector investment to failing town centres
  • Inform the preparation of ‘fit-for-purpose’ and commercially realistic retail capacity/impact and sequential assessments, and the development of robust and deliverable strategic visions, action plans and master plans for town centres and development opportunities.

Who should attend?

This presentation is aimed at:

  • Local authority planners and economic development officers
  • Retailers and leisure operators
  • Investors and developers
  • Planning consultants and surveyors
  • Urban designers and architects
  • Town centre managers
  • Councillors and key town centre stakeholders



9.00 Coffee and registration

9.30 Welcome and introduction by the Chair

Dr Steve Norris, Partner and Head of Regeneration, Retail and Town Centre Consultancy Team, Carter Jonas

9.40 Prospects for the UK economy and the retail sector

  • Assessment of new and ongoing risks to the UK outlook identifying developments and vulnerabilities across the sectors
  • Recent trends to identify top and bottom performing cities
  • Will growth relativities across the regions change post-Brexit?

Mohammed Chaudhri, Managing Economist, Experian

10.20 Retail & Leisure Trends, and the Evolution of Smarter Cities

  • The GB retail environment:  changes in occupancy, vacancy and retail centre health
  • Connecting Cities: linking pavement footfall data and wider market indicators to monitor vitality
  • Some predictions about the role of retail destinations in the future

Chris Fowler, Relationship Manager – Local Authorities & BIDs, Local Data Company

11.00 Coffee and networking

11.20 Planning our future town centres: Policy and practice

  • What are the challenges facing retail, our town centres and high streets?
  • Is retail planning policy fit for purpose?
  • Should the sequential test be scrapped or strengthened?
  • How can the public sector deliver sustainable and commercial viable town centre development and regeneration?
  • Town Centre Futures – who are going to be the “winners” and “losers”

Dr Steve Norris, Head of Regeneration, Retail and Town Centres Consultancy, Carter Jonas

12.00 Current legal trends in retail planning

  • What is the relevant Case Law pertaining to retail and town centres?
  • What lessons can we learn from Case Law about the correct application and interpretation of the sequential and impact tests?
  • What does Case Law say about the “need to demonstrate flexibility” and “disaggregation” (NPPF, para 24)?
  • What is meant by “significant adverse impact” and how is it being interpreted (NPPF, para 27).
  • Is the NPPF fit for purpose?

12.40 Panel discussion

1.00 Lunch

2.00 How can the private sector help “fix” the UK’s town and city centres?

The Funding Landscape

  • Public and Private sources of funding
  • Enabling Urban Regeneration

Fixing Urban Centres

  • Demand Factors
  • Reduction of retail space
  • Replacement uses and development
  • Alternative occupiers and investment sectors

Dan Mead, Asset Management Director, Queensberry 

2.40 Local authority perspective

Catherine Marks, Warwickshire Council

3.20 Unlocking the potential of Street Markets

  • The value of markets to towns
  • Different types of markets
  • How to improve your markets

Nick Rhodes, Chief Executive, Market Place

4.00 Panel discussion

 4.20 Chair’s closing comments

Dr Steve Norris

4.30 Close