6. Retail


This chapter deals primarily with developments involving uses within the following classes of the Town & Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987:

  • shops, services and offices within Use Classes A1 & A2;
  • food and drink outlets within Use Class A3;
  • community facilities within Use Class D1;
  • leisure facilities within Use Class D2.

The Plan’s strategy is for most developments of these types to be concentrated in town or village centres, so some of the policies in this chapter also touch on other uses that are appropriate to such centres. The concentration and interaction of a variety of uses and activities is a crucial factor in the vitality, viability and sustainability of any centre.


Some types of development within Use Classes D1 and D2 may be more appropriately located outside town, village or district centres if they require large areas of land – for example playing fields or extensive sports facilities (see the policies of the Recreation, Sport & Tourism chapter). The policies in this chapter apply to the types of leisure use that are most appropriately located within town and village centres, according to the catchment areas they are intended to serve. Examples include, cinemas, fitness centres, bingo and gaming centres and bowling alleys.


A "Retail and Commercial Leisure Study" was produced for the District Council by consultants Drivers Jonas in September 2000. The results have informed the preparation of this Local Plan. The study provides useful economic and statistical information and analysis, and helpful insights into the economics of retail development. It reveals strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and it suggests ways in which planning policy and planning intervention may be used to best effect.


Key pointers emerging from the study include:

  • There is some scope for further retail, service and entertainment development in the District;
  • Although it is possible to estimate the total amount of additional floorspace that could be supported by growth in the District's population and economy, such estimates must be treated with care;
  • Maintaining the viability and vitality (and, therefore, the commercial and physical attractiveness) of the existing centres will be crucial. Consequently new retail, service and entertainment developments should be concentrated mostly in Sleaford town centre and, to a lesser extent, the District's other smaller centres. Out-of-centre development proposals should be viewed with great caution.

This chapter’s policies and proposals will contribute to all three of the Council’s objectives:

  • A good quality of life for all residents - Ease of access to shops, services, entertainments and other facilities makes an important contribution to a good quality of life. Concentration of such facilities in the District’s centres helps to ensure that they are accessible to most members of the community. Town and village centres – and the shops, services and other facilities that they host – also play an important role in bringing people in to contact with each other, acting as focal points for a wide range of social interactions.
  • A thriving and prosperous economy - With a large proportion of employment and economic activity being provided by businesses and other organisations in the retail, service, leisure and entertainment sectors, measures to support developments in these sectors and to guide them to the most appropriate locations will play a major part in promoting a thriving and prosperous economy. Many businesses and activities of these types benefit from close proximity to one another, promoting both co-operation and constructive competition and enabling customers and clients choice and ease of comparison. Concentration of these uses within centres assists those processes.
  • A clean, green and safe environment - A strategy of promoting strong centres and discouraging dispersal of shops, services and the types of entertainment facilities that are best located in town and village centres, helps to protect the environment, locally and globally, by reducing the need to travel so far and so frequently, thus reducing transport-related pollution. Promoting investment in the District’s town and village centres helps to ensure the upkeep of historic buildings and streets, whilst discouraging dispersal can help to protect the countryside from inappropriate development and protect the setting of historic settlements.

POLICY R1 - Retail and Town Centre Development View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will be granted for retail, service, indoor sport and recreation, and entertainment developments within an existing town centre provided that it is of a type and scale that is appropriate to the role of the particular centre, in accordance with the following sequential approach to site selection: -

  1. development is directed firstly to existing centres where an identified need is to be met;
  2. (ii) if no suitable sites are found in existing centres then edge-of-centre locations and finally out-of-centre sites will be considered.

The identified centres in North Kesteven are:

  1. Sleaford Town Centre (as defined on the Proposals Map);
  2. The established centres in North Hykeham (as defined on the Proposals Map); and
  3. The centres of the service villages (as defined on the Proposals Map).

Planning permission will be granted for such development outside these centres, only if:

  1. A clear need for both the proposed development and the proposed form of development has been demonstrated;
  2. It has been shown that there are no suitable sites within an appropriate centre;
  3. The site proposed is the closest to an appropriate centre that is suitable and can reasonably be made available for the type of development proposed;
  4. Adequate measures are to be taken to ensure that the development is accessible by public transport, foot and bicycle; and
  5. The proposed development will not (either by itself or in conjunction with other proposals that have been permitted or can reasonably be anticipated) harm the vitality and viability of any of the District's established town or service village centres, or any centre in an adjacent District; or
  6. The development proposed is minor in scale and caters exclusively for the locality, rather than depending on a wider catchment area for its viability.



Sleaford's town centre is the main centre within North Kesteven, directly serving a significant proportion of the District for shopping, schools, employment, services, entertainment and traffic mode interchanges. Maintaining the vitality and viability of the town centre and, where possible, enhancing its role as the District's primary centre is a key component of this Local Plan's strategy. It is considered that effective enhancement and promotion of features that make Sleaford a special place can help to "retain" customers and attract visitors. Key features include the town's historic streets and buildings; its pleasant environment; its market; and the river and riverside areas. Public transport accessibility is a key consideration and opportunities to achieve even better integration of the station and the town's shopping, services and entertainment centre should also be promoted and harnessed. Considerable potential for redevelopment and regeneration has been identified in the area close to the railway station. Preference will be given for proposals in this area to developments that will benefit particularly from close proximity to the District's main public transport node and/or will help to support the viability of public transport services or contribute to the improvement of public transport infrastructure (see policy T2). The Town Centre is supported and complemented by a number of smaller centres which, in the terminology of PPG6 (Town Centres and Retail Developments) fall broadly within the categories of "district" and "local" centres. In this Local Plan, the service villages perform the role of "district centres" and many of the other villages contain the equivalent of "local centres". North Hykeham is unusual, in that by size and identity it is a town, but it does not have a single "town centre". Instead, its shops, services and entertainment facilities are grouped in three separate locations, each of which has some of the characteristics of a local or district centre.


The importance of the District's town and village centres should not be underestimated - they provide people with goods, services and entertainments relatively close to their homes (meaning that they do not have to travel so far, or so frequently, to larger centres). As the overall thrust of this Local Plan is to promote a more sustainable pattern of development and activity and to facilitate more sustainable life-style choices, maintaining the vitality, viability and diversity of the District's centres is an important goal.


Permitting a more dispersed pattern of development would be likely to undermine the vitality and viability of the centres, thereby diminishing their roles and encouraging less sustainable patterns of movement and transport.


Occasionally, it may be appropriate to permit retail development on the edge of a centre, if there is a clear need for the development and there is no scope for it to be accommodated (either as proposed or in a modified form) in the centre itself. There may also be some scope for accommodating retail developments on employment sites. These must be in locations where there is good accessibility by cycle, foot and public transport or alternatively, accessibility can be improved to an acceptable standard as part of the development (see policy T1). Nonetheless, the Council will wish to ensure that its decisions contribute to reducing dependence upon the private car as much as is possible. The Council will seek to direct retail proposals to these sites, if the development is one that will be more appropriately sited in an employment area and will not harm the viability of retail facilities in nearby settlements. Before permitting such development, the Council will need to be satisfied that the criteria set out in Policy R1 have been met and that satisfactory measures are to be taken to integrate the development with the centre – both physically and functionally. A full retail impact assessment will be required for all applications for retail developments over 2500 sq m gross floor space and smaller developments that are likely to have a large impact on a town or district centre.


Allowance has also been made for the establishment of small, locally-orientated shops to meet the needs of people living in smaller villages or in residential neighbourhoods. It should be noted, however, that the scale of such developments is envisaged to be modest, as the intention is to complement the facilities available within the main centres and not to compete with them in such a way as to threaten their viability and vitality.

POLICY R2 - Mixing uses within Sleaford Town Centre View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will be granted within Sleaford Town Centre (as shown on the Proposals Map) for developments involving the following range of uses:

  1. Shops, services and offices within Use Class A1 and A2;
  2. Food and drink outlets within Use Class A3;
  3. Business uses within Use Class B1;
  4. Houses and flats within Use Class C3;
  5. Community facilities within Use Class D1;
  6. Leisure facilities within Use Class D2;
  7. Hotels within Use Class C1,

provided that:

  1. The proposed development is compatible with the use of adjacent buildings and land; and,
  2. In the Main Shopping Streets (as shown on the Proposals Map):
    1. uses other than those within Use Classes A1, A2 and A3 are not located or concentrated in such a way as to detract from the vitality and viability of the area as a focus for shopping and other retail-oriented activities;
    2. appropriate display windows are retained or incorporated in buildings used for purposes within Use Classes A1 and A2.



One of the attractions of town centre shopping is the concentration of many shops within a relatively compact area, allowing comparisons to be made and goods to be bought without having to walk too far between shops. If too many other uses are allowed between the shops, the attractions and advantages of concentration will be lost and the overall vitality and viability of the centre may suffer. At the same time, however, it must be acknowledged that successful town centres are much more than just a concentration of shops. The fact that this chapter encompasses services and entertainments is itself recognition that there is a synergy between these activities which means that they are often best located close to each other. A notable development in recent years has been the growth of the evening economy adding further dimensions to the town centre’s attractions, and supporting its overall viability and vitality.


It is equally important that people have the opportunity to live in the town centre, as this gives it a wider life and purpose, provides custom for town centre businesses and enables people to live in the most highly accessible areas, particularly in relation to walking, cycling or using public transport to move around. The intention of Policy R2 is, therefore, to promote a mixture of mutually compatible and mutually beneficial uses within Sleaford's town centre, whilst safeguarding its particular role as the District's main shopping and services centre.

POLICY R3 - Safeguarding of existing facilities View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will be granted for proposals that will result in the loss of retail, social or community facilities that serve the local community, only if:

  1. There are adequate alternative facilities locally;
  2. Equivalent facilities have been, or are to be, provided elsewhere in the area; or
  3. The existing use is not viable in the longer term.



North Kesteven’s predominantly rural nature means that there are numerous shops, pubs, Post Offices and other facilities serving the needs of particular local communities across the District. Sometimes these are in identifiable centres, sometimes they are in other locations. Often they are of great value to local people, particularly those without access to a car, or those with disabilities or limited mobility. Such existing facilities are considered to be a valuable and limited resource. Once lost they are likely to be difficult to reinstate or replace. Facilities of this type have a significant part to play in meeting this Local Plan’s objective of reducing people's need to travel, by ensuring that homes, jobs and services are close to one another, so it is important that they are not lost to other uses unless in any particular case the need for such a facility has clearly gone and is not likely to re-emerge.


Where applications are received for planning permission to change the use of such premises, applicants will normally be expected to demonstrate that the business is no longer economically viable (and cannot be expected to return to viability in the foreseeable future) and that all reasonable efforts have been made to find a purchaser, tenant or operator willing to continue the business (or a business of similar value to the local community) without success.

POLICY R4 - Advertisements View Map of this site ?

Consent will be granted for the display of appropriate signs and advertisements on shops and other commercial premises, provided that:

  1. The character or appearance of the building or the area will not be adversely affected;
  2. Public safety will not be compromised; and
  3. The amenities of the users or occupiers of nearby land or buildings will not be adversely affected.



Signs and other advertisements on shops and commercial premises play an important role because they allow businesses to advertise their presence and the goods and services they provide. They also contribute to the character and interest of shopping streets, provided they are well designed, of suitable scale and appropriately located. Policy R4 is intended to encourage advertising in forms that make a positive contribution to the vitality, viability and attractive character of the areas in which they are to be displayed, whilst preventing unduly obtrusive or poorly designed advertisements, and avoiding the creation of cluttered street-scenes.


See also policies HE11 and DC8, which also deal with advertisements.

POLICY R5 - Security Grilles and Shutters View Map of this site ?

Planning permission will be granted for the installation of external security grilles or shutters on the display windows of shops or other commercial premises, only if:

  1. There is a clear and particular security risk;
  2. The design and materials are in keeping with the character and appearance of the building and its surroundings; and
  3. Wherever possible, visibility of the display window is maintained.



Whilst the security of shops and other commercial premises is important, shuttering of display windows can produce an unpleasant and intimidating street-scene and can detract from the perceived vitality of a centre. Such measures will, therefore, only be permitted where there is a particular security risk that cannot realistically be reduced in other ways. In such instances, the preference will normally be for see-through grilles, rather than solid shutters, as these help to maintain interest in the shopping street-scene and often provide a better level of security as there is a greater likelihood of any activity behind the grille being seen by passers-by.

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