Policy PODM34 – Retail development in the Broads

  1. Support will be given for maintaining and enhancing the vitality and viability of town centres and local/district centres.
  2. Proposals for retail and other town centre development of a scale appropriate to the retail hierarchy as set out in District Council Local Plans will be supported provided that development respects the character of the centre, including its special architectural and historic interest, and assists in maintaining its existing retail function.
  3. Proposals for main town centre uses outside of town centres and across the Broads Authority Executive Area will be considered in accordance with:
    1. The sequential test requirements as set out in national policy and the policies of our District Councils; and
    2. The relevant policies and retail hierarchy of the local plan of the district in which the proposal is located, including in particular, the relevant adopted floorspace threshold if there is one[112] ; and
    3. The most up to date retail evidence of the District Council within which area the proposal is located; and
    4. Relevant development plan policies.
  4. Retail development within settlements will only be permitted in line with a to d above and where:
    1. It is of a scale commensurate with the size of that settlement; and
    2. There would be, either individually or cumulatively, no significant adverse impact on the retail function, viability, and vitality of centres (whether in or out of the Broads Authority Executive Area); and
    3. The proposal is in accordance with other policies of the development plan.
  5. The catchment area used to assess impacts (including which centres within this catchment area which are to be assessed) will be agreed with the Authority on a case-by-case basis depending on the scale and type of the proposal and its location relative to other centres[113] . The sequential test set out in the NPPF will cover the whole of the identified centre and the entire settlement[114] .
  6. Development outside of settlements will only be supported where it will help to sustain an existing business, including farm diversification schemes (see policy PODM32) and it meets the requirements of the other policies in the development plan.
  7. Proposals which seek to appropriately restore and/or put back traditional features on historic shop fronts will be particularly supported.
  8. The Authority may seek to apply conditions limiting the ability to change use to other uses within Use Class E without the need for planning permission.

Reasoned justification

The Broads is primarily a rural area, but a number of the settlements within or near to the Broads Authority Executive Area have retail and town centre uses and typically these tend to be located outside of the Broads part of that settlement. Many of the settlements have developed strong links between one another, based on the need for self-sufficiency. Larger towns outside the Broads Authority Executive Area provide access to higher tier services, such as hospitals and large retail outlets. These cross-boundary relationships are recognised, as are neighbouring district strategies. It is important to note that the two identified centres that are within the Broads Authority Executive Area (albeit partly) are Hoveton Town Centre and Oulton Broad District Centre.

It is important the Authority works within the landscape character and environmental limits, and builds upon the existing traditional settlement pattern, but at the same time enables local centres to change and develop and adapt to challenges as this will help those rural communities be sustainable. Development must be of a scale that is commensurate with the size and sympathetic to the role of the settlement and respect its appearance and physical capacity. When assessing a development proposal, spatial variations, such as location, size and level of service provision will be considered. Development will not be permitted where it compromises the area’s special qualities or its distinctiveness.

There may be occasions when applications are received for Town Centre and/or retail proposals in the Broads Authority Executive Area. It is important to consider retail across a district as a whole and therefore the policy states that the Authority will assess these proposals against national policy requirements (as set out in the NPPF and NPPG) as well as the local policy requirements, including the retail hierarchy of the district within which the proposal is located.

The Local Plan will seek to support and enhance local provision through focusing retail and leisure proposals within town centres, with retail uses focused within the Primary Shopping Areas. The development of additional retail floorspace outside of defined centres (as defined in Local Plans of the Authority’s constituent districts) will be restricted where it fails the sequential and impact tests where relevant.

This approach will enable the Authority to assess and appropriately manage proposals for town centre uses across the Broads in relation to the performance of town centres, local communities, and rural areas.

Highstreets and shopping areas which have a well-protected historic identity offer a unique selling point to companies and brands using their buildings. People are attracted to high quality and well-preserved environments which help create a sense of place and boosts economy.

To prevent the proliferation of town centre uses in out-of-centre and edge-of-centre locations and to control their character, conditions will be used to restrict permissions granted for office, light industrial or research and development changing to other uses within Class E.

There are three policies within this Local Plan that refer to specific areas of retail and those policies will be used in determining applications for development at those sites:

  • POHOV5 relates to the part of Hoveton Town Centre within the Broads Authority Executive Area;
  • POOUL3 relates to the part of Oulton Broad District Centre within the Broads Authority Executive Area; and
  • POPHRB1 relates to Potter Heigham Bridge.

Reasonable alternative options

Original policy

No policy

Sustainability appraisal summary

The following is a summary of the assessment of the policy and alternative(s).

A: Keep original policy : 3 positives. 0 negatives. 0 ? Overall, positive.

B: Amended policy: 6 positives. 0 negatives. 0 ? Overall, positive.

C: No policy: 0 positives. 0 negatives. 6 ?

How has the existing policy been used since adoption in May 2019?

According to recent Annual Monitoring Reports, the policy has been used and applications have been determined in accordance with the policy.

Why has the alternative option been discounted?

An alternative option is to not have a policy however retail provides an important function in the Broads and therefore needs a policy. The changes firm up the policy as well as provides general support to appropriate improvements to centres.

  • [112] If there is not a locally set impact threshold see 2023 NPPF Paragraph 90. NPPF paragraph 89 may also be of relevance for small-scale rural development.

  • [113] Due to the nature of the Broads Authority Executive Area boundary, in particular its shape and limits on development the Area does not form its own retail catchment, hence the case-by-case approach.

  • [114] Settlements in the Broads tend to be partly within the Broads and partly within the Local Planning Authority area of the constituent district.