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Home > Planning > Local Plan > Written Statement - Chapter 8 Retailing and Services

8. Retailing and Services

8.1. The policies in this section have the following objectives:

  • To sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of Saffron Walden as a principal shopping centre, of Great Dunmow as a smaller town centre, and of the local centres of Stansted Mountfitchet and Thaxted;
  • To promote mixed use commercial developments in these centres;
  • To focus retail and mixed use commercial developments in locations that maximise the opportunities to use means of transport other than the private car;
  • To prevent further loss of retail and other services in rural areas.

Town and Local Centres

8.2. This policy is intended to enable development appropriate to the character of the four centres. Their health as retail centres was somewhat fragile in 2000 and vulnerable to loss of trade. This Plan allows for extensions to existing shops and for opportunities to develop small units, which could meet the need for additional retail floorspace as a consequence of available expenditure within the centre’s catchments or improved shopping environments for consumers, albeit not in large stores because of an absence of suitable sites within centres or in edge of centre locations. Local centre partnerships will be encouraged to help promote the centres. Government and county structure plan policy is that retail and other town centre uses attracting large numbers of people should be located in town centres.

Access to Retailing and Services

8.3. Development proposals such as shops and restaurants and other commercial buildings which the public may use will be required to provide safe, easy, and inclusive access to all regardless of disability, age or gender.

Policy RS1 - Access to Retailing and Services

All retail and service development proposals where there is public access, whether new build, conversion or extension need to be accessible to all, to ensure social inclusion.

Policy RS2 – Town and Local Centres

Retail, commercial and community uses or mixed-use development including a residential element will be permitted in the centres of Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow, Stansted Mountfitchet or Thaxted if it meets all the following criteria:

a) It maintains or enhances their role as retail and service centres;
b) It does not harm their historic and architectural character;
c) It contributes to the diversity of retail and other commercial activity;
d) It does not result in significant loss of houses or flats in the centres;
e) It does not prejudice the effective use of upper floors as living or business accommodation.

Retail and other Facilities in the Rural Areas

8.4. Local facilities in the villages are vital to many residents and are an important feature of rural life and they also contribute to the tourism economy. The planning process cannot ensure that a business stays open but it can provide a framework for considering proposals to change the use of a shop or pub to a dwelling, for example. It is important that communities make good use of local facilities to make a sound case for refusing changes of use and the Council will encourage community run schemes.

8.5. The property is required to have been advertised for sale at a realistic price for a minimum of 12 months. A ‘realistic price’ is one at which the property might be expected to sell if it were to continue in its present use (and without the benefit or prospect of permission for a change of use to some other purpose, such as private dwelling).

Policy RS3 – Retention of Retail and other Services in Rural Areas

Change of use of community facilities such as shop, post office, public house, garage, doctors/dentist surgeries and village halls will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:

a) The facility is no longer financially viable
b) There is no significant demand for the facility within that locality or;
c) Equivalent facilities in terms of their nature and accessibility are available or would be made available nearby

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For further information, please telephone (01799) 510454 or 510461. Email: planning@uttlesford.gov.uk