Central Lincolnshire Local Plan Review - Proposed Submission Local Plan

Proposed Submission Local Plan

6 Retail: City and Town Centres, and District, Local and Village Centres

6.1 Retail in Central Lincolnshire

6.1.1 City, town and local centres are at the heart of communities, providing accessible shops and services, employment and leisure facilities. Vital and viable centres not only provide economic and social benefits, such as reducing social isolation and health inequalities, and improving community resilience, but areas of niche and independent retailing and distinctive historic retail premises also help to foster civic pride and promote local identity. However, our town centres and high streets are facing substantial challenges from the shrinking ‘front facing’ retail sector which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. As such many centres need to reinvent themselves to compete and thrive.

6.1.2 The most recent Central Lincolnshire City and Town Centres Study (2012) and update (2015) shows that, overall, Central Lincolnshire has a healthy market share of convenience goods expenditure, and whilst significant variations occur across the area depending upon location and goods type, there is a reasonably good market share of comparison goods expenditure. The study and update conclude that:

  • Lincoln is the principal centre and is a popular and well-performing retail and leisure destination, its historic core attracting considerable numbers of tourists and shoppers each year. It has a large amount of retail floorspace and a strong representation from national retailers, reflecting its role as an important sub-regional shopping centre.
  • Gainsborough provides an important role for the local area and its performance has improved since the opening of Marshall’s Yard in 2007. There is, however, a distinct contrast between the new development and the older parts of the town centre in terms of vitality and viability.
  • Sleaford is a popular local retail destination, however its comparison goods offer is relatively weak for a town of its size and catchment and is subject to significant leakage.
  • Market Rasen has a more localised role than Gainsborough, Lincoln and Sleaford and it suffers from leakage to other, larger centres.
  • Individual health checks of 23 additional centres across the area indicate that the vast majority are performing well, appear to be trading healthily and perform a key role serving the local population, including provision of leisure services.

6.1.3 The roles of these centres remain largely the same in 2020, however, the challenges facing the retail sector, principally from online retailers, has grown substantially with many familiar retail names being lost in recent years. City and town centres must now focus on developing as a destination and meeting place to continue to attract footfall with an even greater reliance on food and drink establishments, leisure uses and visitor attractions. This is supported in the Economic Needs Assessment (2020) which highlighted that whilst jobs in the retail sector are anticipated to reduce overall in Central Lincolnshire, job growth in the accommodation and food services sector and the arts, entertainment, recreation and other services sector would increase substantially.

6.1.4 In September 2020 Government introduced changes to the Use Classes Order which brought together a range of “Commercial, Business and Service” uses under one Use Class (E). That new E Use Class is broadly compatible with the NPPF definition of Main Town Centre Uses, though not precisely.

6.1.5 The aim of the new E Use Class is to allow units in town centres to change to other uses that are suitable in town centres without the need for planning permission. With the exception of isolated village shops, which are exempt from this ability to change use without first seeking planning permission, this means that town centres should no longer be viewed in just ‘retail terms’.  That said, in order to implement wider policies in the NPPF (such as the sequential test for retail proposals), it remains necessary for the Local Plan (and associated Policies Map) to identify ‘Primary Shopping Areas’. 

6.2 A Network and Hierarchy of Centres

6.2.1 The Central Lincolnshire City and Town Centres Study and update also provides evidence of a hierarchy of centres in Lincoln, Gainsborough, Sleaford, and the market towns of Market Rasen and Caistor, with smaller settlements sitting below these. Policy S35 sets out the hierarchy in detail and the geographic extent of these centres are shown on the Policies Map.

6.2.2 The NPPF requires local plans to define a network and hierarchy of centres and where development proposals are made for town centre uses outside of town centres and which are not in accordance with an up-to-date Local Plan a sequential test should be applied with town centres coming first, then edge of centre sites, and only if suitable sites are not available (or are not expected to become available) in these locations should out of centre sites be considered.

6.2.3 The NPPF also stipulates that proposals for town centre uses outside town centres should provide an impact assessment. The default threshold whereby such assessments apply is 2,500m² of gross floorspace. The City and Town Centres Study advises against having a blanket threshold for all types of centre across Central Lincolnshire, as a store of 500 m² (e.g. a small, basket-based, supermarket) would be likely to have a greater impact on a lower tier centre than on, for example, Lincoln City Centre. A tiered approach is therefore taken within this policy to reflect the role and function of a centre within its sphere of influence.

6.2.4 The hierarchy of town centres is made up of 4 tiers:

Lincoln City Centre

Largest centre within Central Lincolnshire, having an extensive catchment and a sub-regional role, providing a wide range of town centre uses.

Town Centres

Centres providing a range of facilities and services for a wider catchment area within the main towns and market towns.

District Centres

Centres serving particular areas within the main settlements, typically including a range of services, restaurants, library and usually at least one supermarket.

Local and Village Centres

Centres that serve their locality, typically including a convenience store or a small supermarket and a limited range of other local shops and services such as a pharmacy, sub-Post Office, newsagent, hot food takeaway.

6.2.5 Outside of existing centres, local or district centres will also be delivered at the heart of new communities at the Sustainable Urban Extensions (SUEs). These centres will be limited in their scale, and local in character to ensure that they serve the new communities being formed, but without capturing footfall from the main city and town centres. Policies S69-S71 set out the details of what will be delivered at each SUE.

6.2.6 Whilst the City and Town Centres Study update (2015) identifies the quantitative need for additional retail floorspace in each of the four main centres over the Plan period, the subsequent challenges to the retail sector means that this additional floorspace is no longer needed. Instead, in an effort to ensure that our high streets are not diluted by sparsely occupied frontages the boundaries of the town centres have been reduced to focus on the areas occupied by the town centre uses.

6.2.7 Masterplans have been drawn up for Lincoln, Gainsborough and Sleaford in recent years to help ensure their future survival and to put them in the best position to thrive and these may be updated to attract investment and to further strengthen the role of and guide the future direction of the centres. Work is also currently underway on a heritage-led masterplan for Market Rasen, and work by the neighbourhood planning groups in many areas seek to support the role of the local town or village centre.

Policy S35: Network and Hierarchy of Centres

The following retail hierarchy will be used by the Central Lincolnshire authorities and their partners to guide investment and other activity to improve the vitality and viability of the identified centres, and in planning applications for retail and other town centre uses (as defined in the NPPF):

Tier 1: Lincoln City Centre

Lincoln City Centre

Tier 2: Town Centres

Gainsborough

Sleaford

Caistor

Market Rasen

Tier 3: District Centres

Birchwood, Lincoln

Nettleham Road, Lincoln

Wragby Road/ The Carlton Centre, Lincoln

The Forum, North Hykeham

Hykeham Green, North Hykeham

Tier 4: Local and Village Centres

Local Centres in urban areas:

Brant Road, Lincoln

Burton Road, Lincoln

Junction of Queen Elizabeth Road/ Trelawney Crescent, Lincoln

Junction of Boultham Park Road and Skellingthorpe Road, Lincoln

Junction of Lamb Gardens and Macauley Drive, Lincoln

Junction of Rookery Lane and Newark Road, Lincoln

Junction of Woodhall Drive and Sudbrooke Drive, Lincoln

Manor Farm, North Hykeham

Moorland Avenue, Lincoln

Newark Road, Bracebridge, Lincoln

Newark Road Crossroads, North Hykeham

Newport, Lincoln

Redwood Drive, Lincoln

Corringham Road, Gainsborough

Heapham Road, Gainsborough

Queensway, Gainsborough

Grantham Road, Sleaford

Lincoln Road, Sleaford

Village Centres:

Bardney village centre

Billinghay village centre

Bracebridge Heath village centre

Branston Beech Road

Branston Station Road

Burton Waters village centre

Cherry Willingham village centre

Heckington village centre

Keelby village centre

Keelby, Yarborough Road/South Street

Metheringham village centre

Navenby village centre

Nettleham village centre

Ruskington village centre

Saxilby village centre

Scotter village centre

Sturton by Stow village centre

Waddington village centre

Washingborough village centre

Welton village centre

Welton, Ryland Bridge

Witham St Hughs village centre

The boundaries of Tier 1 to 4 centres referred to in this table, together with Primary Shopping Areas within Lincoln City Centre, and in Gainsborough, Sleaford and Market Rasen town centres are defined on the Policies Map and will be the focus for comparison shopping in Central Lincolnshire. For all other centres the Primary Shopping Areas are the same as the centre boundaries as shown on the Policies Map.

In addition to these identified centres, new district and local centres will be delivered at the SUEs as detailed in Policies S69-S71. Such provision must be appropriate in scale and location to the need of the areas they serve. The development of new centres will be required to consolidate and enhance the existing network and hierarchy of centres and not harm their vitality and viability.

Development proposals for retail and/or other town centre uses will be directed to the Tier 1 to 4 centres identified in this policy, and will be appropriate in scale and nature to the size and function of the relevant centre and to the maintenance of the retail hierarchy as a whole. Within local and village centres in Tier 4 of the hierarchy, the scale of provision should be proportionate and strengthen their roles in providing mainly convenience shopping and local services to meet local needs.

Within the Primary Shopping Areas, development proposals for town centre uses as defined in the NPPF should wherever possible maintain an active frontage.  Where an active frontage would not be appropriate or otherwise cannot be achieved, care should be taken to ensure that the frontage provides visual interest and would not be to the detriment of the character of the centre or to maintaining or enhancing footfall in the Primary Shopping Area.  Proposals that would result in lengthy ‘dead frontages’ within a Primary Shopping Area will not normally be acceptable.

Development proposals for main town centre uses in out-of-centre and edge-of-centre locations will be required to demonstrate their suitability through a sequential site test in line with the NPPF.

In addition, a robust assessment of impact on nearby centres will be required for any edge-of-centre or out-of-centre proposal for retail and leisure use that is located:

  1. within 1km of the Lincoln, Gainsborough or Sleaford primary shopping area and is greater than 2,500m²; or
  2. within 500m of Market Rasen or Caistor Town Centre and is greater than 500m2; or
  3. within 500m of the boundary of a District Centre and is greater than 300m² gross; or
  4. within 500m of the boundary of a Local Centre and is greater than 200m² gross; or
  5. in any other location not covered by a-c above and is greater than 500m².

6.3 Lincoln City Centre

6.3.1 Lincoln City Centre is the main centre in Central Lincolnshire providing an extensive range of facilities and services including shopping, employment, leisure, arts, tourism, public services and higher education. The City Centre has a lively evening economy based on its restaurants, hotels, bars and cultural venues such as the Drill Hall, Engine Shed and Theatre Royal.

6.3.2 The City Centre has seen many changes in recent years, most significantly in and around the Brayford Pool including hotels, restaurants, a cinema and the further development of the University of Lincoln Campus, development of a Cultural Quarter based around the Collection/ Usher Gallery, significant investment in the Waterside Shopping Centre and the mixed use redevelopment of the Cornhill Quarter.

6.3.3 The redevelopment of the bus station in 2018 to form a transport hub now provides visitors with a multi-modal access point which is linked directly in with the City Centre. In 2019 London North Eastern Railway started the operation of direct trains to and from London Kings Cross, greatly enhancing the ease of accessing Lincoln from the capital and vice versa. The East-West Link Road which was completed in 2016 has enhanced access across the city for road users.

6.3.4 As Central Lincolnshire grows, the City Centre will need to continue to evolve to ensure that Lincoln’s role as a regional attractor is maintained and enhanced to meet the needs of shoppers, residents, businesses and visitors.

6.3.5 Lincoln City Centre benefits from a broad retail offer that currently sustains it as a thriving shopping centre. As well as the larger national retailers, it has the diverse/ niche shops of the historic Uphill area and the vibrant entrepreneurial small business market in South High Street.

6.3.6 The Lincoln Investment Plan (October 2020) outlines a number of key challenges for the City Centre including the need to support a greater mix of uses in the City Centre, to maximise opportunities to improve the public realm and the townscape, to deliver high quality and viable redevelopment of a number of key sites, to enhance the use of digital technology to improve visitor experience and connectivity and to deliver high quality events and activities. It also highlights four key opportunities including the growing population of the city supporting its vibrancy and long term growth, the value of the heritage assets in the city and opportunities to restore and promote these assets, the regeneration of key brownfield sites and heritage sites, and the strong public and private centre partnership.

6.3.7 Perhaps the biggest challenge for Lincoln, as it is in all major cities, is the difficulties facing retailers, hospitality industry and the heritage and cultural industry resulting from the dramatic reduction in footfall in the City Centre as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This global challenge has exacerbated the existing threat to ‘front-facing’ retailers from online shopping and a number of national retailers have, or are, collapsing as a result. Whilst the plan has limited scope to address these issues, having a positive strategy which seeks to protect the uses which make the City Centre a destination and which will foster investment to strengthen its role will be important for the City’s future.

6.3.8 The City Centre has a primary role in attracting and maintaining a wide range of activities and services which draws in a large number of visitors. It is therefore intended to encourage a wide range of mutually supporting uses.

6.3.9 The City Centre can be divided into a number of distinct areas including: the historic and cultural quarter in the Uphill and Bailgate Area; the Primary Shopping Area which runs down from the upper High Street, Central Market, and Cornhill Quarter and stretching down to St Marks and the middle High Street around the level crossing; the Brayford Pool; the University area; and the Civic area around the City and County Council buildings. These distinctive areas provide a wide range of services and physical surroundings that makes Lincoln special and a key destination for residents and visitors.

6.3.10 The Primary Shopping Area contains the core shopping area for the city where ground floor uses will typically be shops and other uses such as banks and building societies, cafés and restaurants which people would expect to visit as part of a shopping trip and providing an active frontage wherever possible. Other key retail areas along the High Street to South Park roundabout and up Steep Hill along Bailgate to the Westgate Junction.

Policy S36: Lincoln's City Centre and Primary Shopping Area

Part one: Primary Shopping Area

Where planning permission is required within the Primary Shopping Area, as defined on the Policies Map, proposals for non-retail use on ground floors will only be supported if they:

  1. are a recognised main town centre use under E Use Class;
  2. would not result in the over concentration of non-retail uses or ‘dead’ frontages that would undermine the primary shopping area's overall retail function and character;
  3. would have no demonstrable impact on the vitality and viability of the centre as a whole
  4. are of high quality design, responding to their surroundings and contributing positively to the streetscene and character of the City Centre; and
  5. enhance connectivity within, through and around the City Centre wherever possible.

Proposals that do not positively contribute to the vitality and viability of the City Centre by satisfying the criteria in part one a)-e), will not be supported.

Development proposals not under E Use Class will be considered on their merits subject to satisfying the criteria in part one b)-e) and providing that they will:

  1. not detract from or otherwise harm town centre uses; and
  2. not result in large gaps between town centre uses in frontages;
  3. be compatible with the goal of maintaining or enhancing Lincoln City Centre as a regional destination.

Development proposals for residential or commercial development above town centre uses will be supported providing that the proposed use would not be likely to introduce conflict with existing town centre uses.

Part two: Lincoln City Centre

Within Lincoln City Centre area as defined on the Policies Map the following uses will be supported in principle:

  1. Town Centre Uses (E Class) including, but not limited to, shops, offices, restaurants, financial and professional services, and indoor sport and leisure activities
  2. Pubs, drinking establishments (sui generis)
  3. Houses and flats (C3)
  4. Residential Institutions (C2)
  5. Hotels (C1)
  6. Student halls of residence
  7. Theatres, cinemas, museums or other similar leisure uses or visitor attractions (sui generis)
  8. Transport facilities including public car, powered two wheeler and cycle parking which is in accordance with the Local Plan's transport Policies S47, S48 and S49 and the latest Lincoln Transport Strategy.

The in-principle support in i)-p) is subject to:

  1. the development not detracting from the vitality and viability of the City Centre as defined on the Policies Map;
  2. the development complementing the City Centre character and the character of the vicinity of the proposal;
  3. the development not harming the local environment or the amenities which occupiers of nearby properties may reasonably expect to enjoy, such as causing unacceptable levels of disturbance, noise, smell, fumes, dust, grit or other pollution, or reducing daylight, outlook or privacy to an unacceptable degree;
  4. the development not resulting in levels of traffic or on-street parking which would cause either road safety or amenity problems; and
  5. the development being acceptable in terms of the uses proposed and any risk of flooding on the site; and
  6. dwelling houses or other homes not being lost to non-residential uses unless:
    1. The level of amenity available in any particular instance is already so poor that continued residential use is not desirable and there is no realistic prospect of the problem(s) being remedied; or
    2. The overall development will maintain or produce a net numerical gain in the number of dwellings on the site.

Part 1 and Part 2 note: In the event that the Use Classes Order changes during the life of this Plan, then the closest new Use Classes to those classified as Town Centre Uses by the NPPF will apply for the purpose of applying the above policy, provided such new Use Classes are reasonably similar to the ones being replaced.

6.4 Gainsborough Town Centre

6.4.1 Gainsborough is the main service centre for West Lindsey, the host for a range of civic and public administration services and is the main retail and employment location in the District. It has a rich history as an inland port and industrial centre, servicing the wider agricultural area. To this day, Gainsborough acts as a hub for many rural settlements in the area.

6.4.2 In 2007 the flagship retail development – Marshall’s Yard – was opened in the former listed Britannia Works, which has raised the profile of Gainsborough as a shopping and leisure destination. This provides a strong catalyst for additional retail and leisure growth and, through improved linkages into the historic town centre, the riverside and to important heritage assets, there is an opportunity to develop a new and modern shopping and leisure experience in Gainsborough.

6.4.3 The riverside area and buildings such as the Old Hall and All Saints Church, together with several high quality historic buildings across the core areas of the town represent significant assets for the town. New public realm works to improve the layout and multi-functional use of the historic Market Place have been completed as the first stage of enhancing the built environment in the town centre, setting the scene for further rejuvenation.

6.4.4 The town centre area for Gainsborough as defined on the Policies Map reflects the priority growth areas associated with the continued use, planned growth and regeneration of the main retail, employment and leisure locations. Within the Primary Shopping Area (which has a tighter boundary than the town centre boundary) retail will continue to be the predominant land use and will be protected to retain and enhance the retail base established in the town centre. For Gainsborough, both the town centre boundary and Primary Shopping Area have been rationalised and the town centre extent has been reduced slightly compared to the extent in the previous adopted Local Plan.  This reflects the need for a focused area for retail and leisure as a destination in response to the challenges faced by the sector.

6.4.5 Whilst the value of residential and office uses in town centres is recognised, these are only likely to be appropriate in upper floors in the Primary Shopping Area, given the importance of maintaining active frontages and a critical mass of retail units in this area, or on the periphery of the town centre as part of a mixed use scheme.

6.4.6 West Lindsey District has been actively investing in the regeneration of the town centre through an ambitious programme which seeks to overcome some of the challenges facing it. This includes the INVEST Programme, launched in 2016 to promote development opportunities across the town, the Gainsborough Town Centre Heritage Masterplan (2017), as well as a number of physical initiatives which have helped to deliver a hotel and restaurant complex, shop-front improvements, the restoration of key historic buildings, and enhancements to the public realm.  Substantial efforts are also being made to improve the usage of space over retail units through the Living Over The Shop (LOTS) scheme.

6.4.7 The Local Plan seeks to enable the further enhancement of the whole of the town centre, including enabling a series of interventions that will create a clear role for the town centre.

6.4.8 Key issues and opportunities include:

  • To build on the success of Marshall’s Yard by identifying and maximising development opportunities associated with the Market Place, Riverside and Gainsborough Old Hall areas to enhance the town’s growing role as a sub-regional retail and leisure destination;
  • Integration and enhanced linkages between Marshall’s Yard, the historic town centre core and the riverfront;
  • Securing a vibrant and dynamic town centre with a sustainable mix of uses which will strengthen and complement the existing offer, including retail, leisure, offices, health, housing and a quality public realm;
  • Enhancement of the evening economy.
Policy S37: Gainsborough Town Centre and Primary Shopping Area

Primary Shopping Area

Within the Primary Shopping Area, identified on the Policies Map, proposals for non-retail use on ground floors will only be supported if they:

  1. are a recognised main town centre use under E Use Class; and
  2. would not result in the over concentration of non-retail uses or ‘dead’ frontages that would undermine the primary shopping area's overall retail function and character; and
  3. would have no demonstrable impact on the vitality and viability of the centre as a whole.

Gainsborough Town Centre

Where planning permission is required, proposals for main town centre uses under E Use Class, or for the development of cultural, social or leisure facilities suitable for a town centre location will be supported in principle within Gainsborough Town Centre, as identified on the Policies Map, where they:

  1. are of high quality design, responding to their surroundings and contributing positively to the streetscene; and
  2. enhance connectivity within, through and around the town centre wherever possible.

Proposals that do not positively contribute to the vitality and viability of the town centre by satisfying the criteria in a)-e) will not be supported.

Development proposals within Gainsborough Town Centre, not in E Use Class will be considered on their merits subject to satisfying the criteria in a)-e) where relevant and providing that they will:

  1. not result in large gaps between town centre uses in frontages;
  2. not detract from or otherwise harm or conflict with town centre uses; and
  3. be compatible with maintaining or enhancing Gainsborough Town Centre as a sub-regional shopping destination.

 

Proposals for residential or commercial development above town centre uses will be supported providing that the proposed use would not be likely to introduce conflict with existing uses.

Where possible and relevant, development proposals in Gainsborough Town Centre will assist in meeting wider regeneration and investment objectives for Gainsborough, including the most up to date Gainsborough Masterplan and in the Gainsborough Neighbourhood Plan, this can include:

  1. enhancing linkages between Marshall's Yard, Market Place, Market Street, and the Riverside;
  2. strengthening the existing retail area of the town centre, through increased and/or improved retail offer, together with some complementary uses as appropriate; and
  3. delivering improved public transport facilities and connections.

Note: In the event that the Use Classes Order changes during the life of this Plan, then the closest new Use Classes to those classified as Town Centre Uses by the NPPF will apply for the purpose of applying the above policy, provided such new Use Classes are reasonably similar to the ones being replaced.

6.5 Sleaford Town Centre

6.5.1 Sleaford has an attractive and historic town centre with a number of retail, leisure, cultural and historic attractions. Sleaford performs as a hub for the rural hinterland of North Kesteven stretching into parts of South Kesteven, Boston, East Lindsey and South Holland. Sleaford is located between a number of towns including Grantham, Boston, Spalding, Stamford and Newark as well the major centres of Lincoln, Peterborough and Nottingham and as a result faces substantial competition from these centres. In the Sleaford Town Centre Visioning Report (July 2015) it was identified that Sleaford is not fulfilling its full potential and needs to attract further national and independent retailers to the town along with broadening its leisure uses.

6.5.2 Since the Visioning Report was published the national retail picture has changed considerably, however, many of the objectives of the report remain relevant in maintaining and enhancing Sleaford as a service centre and destination.

6.5.3 Building on the Visioning Report and in an effort to bring together findings from a number of linked studies and reports[1] the Sleaford Strategic Delivery Plan was published in 2018. This identified 40 actions to deliver the vision under five key headings:

  • Supporting the town centre and its regeneration;
  • Encouraging sustainable travel including enhancing walking and cycling experiences and making alternative transport modes more attractive;
  • Encouraging edge of town centre parking to release the town centre of traffic and improving the car parking experience for all users;
  • Investing in the existing strategic infrastructure to create capacity for growth whilst utilising the existing town centre infrastructure more efficiently and effectively to support regeneration; and
  • Improving the town centre environment through enhanced public realm, better signage and reduced congestion.

6.5.4 A key barrier to enhancing the town centre’s retail core is the constant circulation of vehicle traffic around the one-way traffic management system. This has many negative impacts upon the town centre including delays to public transport, problems for deliveries to local businesses and contributes to the poor environment for pedestrians and cyclists.  There is a need to improve connections to primary routes, develop linkages with surrounding settlements, improve the efficiency and movement of vehicles throughout the town centre and promote a shift from private vehicles to walking, cycling and public transport options.

6.5.5 The retail offer is also constrained in part due to the town centre’s heritage and charm. Sleaford has a tight urban grain, with small premises. Whilst this generates an attractive built environment it results in a shortage of modern larger retail premises historically desired by the retail sector, particularly national multiples, and for the sale of comparison goods. Larger and a more varied range of premises would help broaden the town centre offer.

6.5.6 The Policies Map defines the extent of the town centre and Primary Shopping Area. For Sleaford, both the town centre boundary and Primary Shopping Area have been rationalised and reduced slightly from the extent in the previous adopted Local Plan. This reflects the need for a focused area for retail and leisure as a destination in response to the challenges faced by the sector.

6.5.7 Within the Primary Shopping Area, retail will continue to be the predominant land use with other town centre uses complementing this. Whilst the value of residential and office uses in town centres is recognised, these are only likely to be appropriate in upper floors in the Primary Shopping Area, given the importance of maintaining active frontages and a critical mass of retail units in this area, or on the periphery of the town centre as part of a mixed use scheme.

6.5.8 Policy S38 seeks to maintain the main shopping function of the Primary Shopping Area whilst ensuring an appropriate balance between retail and non-retail uses where possible.

1. Including the Sleaford Masterplan, Sleaford Transport Strategy, A Vision for Sleaford, Sleaford Urban Design Study, and Sleaford Town Centre Vision amongst others. [back]
Policy S38: Sleaford Town Centre and Primary Shopping Area

Primary Shopping Area

Within the Primary Shopping Area, identified on the Policies Map, proposals for non-retail use on ground floors will only be supported if they:

  1. are a recognised main town centre use under E Use Class; and
  2. would not result in the over concentration of non-retail uses or ‘dead’ frontages that would undermine the primary shopping area's overall retail function and character; and
  3. would have no demonstrable impact on the vitality and viability of the centre as a whole.

Sleaford Town Centre

Where planning permission is required, proposals for main town centre uses under E Use Class will be supported in principle within Sleaford Town Centre, as identified on the Policies Map, where they:

  1. are of high quality design, responding to their surroundings and contributing positively to the streetscene and the Conservation Area; 
  2. make the most of opportunities to improve connectivity within, through and around the town centre; and
  3. would not result in an unacceptable impact on highway safety or would not have a severe impact on the road network.

 

Proposals that do not positively contribute to the vitality and viability of the town centre by satisfying the criteria in a)-f) where relevant will not be supported.

Development proposals not in E Use Class will be considered on their merits subject to satisfying the criteria in a)-f) as appropriate and providing that they will:

  1. not result in large gaps between town centre uses in frontages;
  2. not detract from or otherwise harm or conflict with town centre uses; and
  3. be compatible with maintaining or enhancing Sleaford Town Centre as a sub-regional shopping destination.

 

Proposals for residential or commercial development above town centre uses will be supported providing that the proposed use would not be likely to introduce conflict with existing uses.

Where possible and relevant, development proposals in Sleaford Town Centre should assist in meeting wider regeneration and investment objectives for Sleaford, including the most up to date Sleaford Masterplan, this can include:

  1. improving traffic circulation and reducing the number of vehicle movements in and around the town centre, including supporting the necessary highway infrastructure to deliver regeneration objectives for the town;
  2. opportunities, as identified in the Sleaford Masterplan, to deliver additional perimeter car parking which facilitates pedestrian access into the town centre;
  3. supporting projects associated with the implementation of the Sleaford Transport Strategy and the Sleaford Masterplan. Enhancements to connections for pedestrians and cyclists between the town centre and surrounding residential communities are particularly important, as well as through the town centre;
  4. supporting the development of the Sleaford East West Leisure Link as the key component of the Sleaford Urban Green Grid in accordance with the Sleaford Masterplan and Central Lincolnshire Green Infrastructure Study.

 

Heart of Sleaford

The heart of Sleaford is an area to the south of Market Place and which includes Money’s Yard and Bristol Arcade.  Development proposals in the Heart of Sleaford should take into account the following principles:

  • Maintain, or where possible enhance, connectivity along the East West Leisure Link identified in the Sleaford Masterplan
  • Contribute to the creation of the Heart of Sleaford as a destination within the town centre.
  • Where relevant, proposals should explore and wherever possible help deliver and not prevent:
    • the redevelopment of Money’s Yard as a visitor attraction;
    • the creation of public open space beside the River Slea;
    • the delivery of a footbridge to connect Money’s Yard to Market Place; and
    • the redevelopment of 18/19 Market Place and land to the rear and the historic Buttermarket with potential pedestrian links to Southgate via Market Place and Bristol Arcade.

Riverside Retail Precinct

The Riverside Retail Precinct is located to the west of Southgate. Development proposals in the precinct should take into account the following principles:

  • Improve and upgrade pedestrian links to the main shopping street via Watergate and Riverside Shopping Centre; and
  • Explore opportunities to bring forward schemes that help strengthen and diversify the town’s retail base and include provision for residential use, potentially live/work use, on the site;
  • Support proposals that make a positive contribution to and restore the river frontage and its setting;
  • Make provision for any proposed development to be capable of mitigating any relevant flood risk.

Southern Southgate

Southern Southgate is the area around Sleaford Railway Station and up to the western end of Boston Road.  Development proposals in this area should take into account the following principles:

  • Improve and upgrade pedestrian links from Station Road to the town centre;
  • Support improvements to Sleaford railway station, including proposals to improve the appearance and function of the transport hub and effective integration with the wider town;
  • Support initiatives and proposals to enhance the physical setting of the Handley Monument, by reducing the impact of vehicles on this space and taking advantage of the existing built heritage to formalise new public space.

26 Southgate

26 Southgate, located at the centre of the Primary Shopping Area, has an extant permission for a mixed use scheme including retail, office and residential uses and has recently been used as a temporary car park.  The redevelopment of this site is an opportunity to enhance the town centre’s offer.  Proposals to develop this site for uses within E Use Class, for residential development or for a mix of uses suitable for the town centre will be supported in principle. The design, scale and massing of any development proposal should make best use of the town centre location whilst being sensitive to its location within the conservation area and nearby Listed Buildings.

Note: In the event that the Use Classes Order changes during the life of this Plan, then the closest new Use Classes to those classified as Town Centre Uses by the NPPF will apply for the purpose of applying the above policy, provided such new Use Classes are reasonably similar to the ones being replaced.

6.6 Market Rasen and Caistor Town Centres

6.6.1 Market Rasen is a picturesque market town situated on the western edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds. It was bestowed its market town status in 1219, there has been a market held there for over 800 years attracting people from the surrounding area to buy and sell goods. It was also a hub for labour where anyone looking for work would come in the hope to secure employment.  Horse racing rose to prominence in Market Rasen in the 1800s, and this remains an important part of the local character and economy.  Close links between the town and the surrounding villages specifically in relation to agriculture remain, with the town continuing to provide key services for the surrounding rural area.

6.6.2 Market Rasen’s prosperity and rich history can be seen in the variety and quality of architecture in and around the town and particularly on the streets that surround the market place. As such the Council have allocated funding to undertake a condition survey to support a Historic Building Grant scheme designed to enable the renovation of priority buildings, promoting high quality design and street scene.  It is considered that the regeneration of historic buildings in the centre of Market Rasen will have a positive impact on the local community, businesses and visitors to the town.

6.6.3 Caistor is nestled on the hillside at the northern edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds and dates back to Roman times. The medieval street pattern of narrow plots and interconnecting market square, combined with fine Georgian and Victorian buildings, contribute to the town's special character.  Caistor’s town centre comprises of its marketplace and surrounding streets and is covered by a conservation area, and contains over 50 listed buildings. 

6.6.4 Caistor town centre has suffered from a loss of trade to nearby larger towns, such as Scunthorpe and Grimsby and as result some buildings have become vacant and are in some disrepair. A townscape heritage initiative scheme has already helped to identify several buildings for grant aid and this work has improved the centre of the town and encouraged new investment in the area.  The Local Plan seeks to build on these initiatives by enabling high quality design-led development initiatives to support further enhancement of the town centre, including promoting a mixed and diverse local economy.

6.6.5 The role of the Town Centres, both for the residents of the towns and also the wider rural hinterland is of great importance to maintaining a sustainable Central Lincolnshire and this local plan seeks to maintain and enhance their role as a multi-service hub and local destination with the retention of a focus for town centre uses.

Policy S39: Market Rasen and Caistor Town Centres

Where planning permission is required, proposals for main town centre uses under E Use Class will be supported in principle within the town centres of Market Rasen and Caistor, as identified on the Policies Map, where they:

  1. are of high quality design, responding to their surroundings and contributing positively to the streetscene; and
  2. make the most of opportunities to improve connectivity within, through and around the town centre.

Proposals that do not positively contribute to the vitality and viability of the town centre by satisfying the criteria in part one a)-b) will not be supported.

Development proposals not for E Use Class will be considered on their merits subject to satisfying the criteria in part one a)-b) and providing that they will:

  1. not result in large gaps between town centre uses in frontages;
  2. not detract from or otherwise harm town centre uses; and
  3. be compatible with maintaining or enhancing the centres as a shopping destination and service hub.

 

Proposals for residential or commercial development above town centre uses will be supported providing that the proposed use would not be likely to introduce conflict with existing uses and provided adequate off-street parking can be provided.

Note: In the event that the Use Classes Order changes during the life of this Plan, then the closest new Use Classes to those classified as Town Centre Uses by the NPPF will apply for the purpose of applying the above policy, provided such new Use Classes are reasonably similar to the ones being replaced.

6.7 District, Local and Village Centres

6.7.1 Beyond the city and town centres in Central Lincolnshire, people rely on smaller centres that are geographically closer to them for everyday shops, services and other facilities. The availability of these services in local and rural centres is vital for many communities and is essential in reducing the need to travel. The scale of these centres means that they clearly complement the strategic role of the larger town centres rather than competing directly with them.

6.7.2 These district, local and village centres, identified in Policy S35, are intended to meet local needs and form an important part of the retail hierarchy. To be effective in terms of reducing journey lengths and in order to be ‘self-supporting’, these centres include more than just shops, although shops are a vital component. New district and local centres will also be an integral part of the Sustainable Urban Extensions (SUEs) as detailed in Policies S69-S71.

Policy S40: District, Local and Village Centres

Development proposals for town centre uses under E Use Class including retail, leisure and/or office development in or on the edge of a district, local or village centre as defined on the Policies Map will be supported in principle where it:

  1. contributes to the vitality and mix of uses in the centre and is compatible with the role of the centre;
  2. is appropriate in scale for the centre and the development is of an appropriate design relating well to the character of the setting;
  3. prioritises and promotes access by walking, cycling and public transport wherever possible;
  4. will not result in road safety issues from on-street parking; and
  5. will not harm the amenity which occupiers of nearby properties may reasonably expect to enjoy.

Proposals for non-town centre uses under E Use Class within a district, local or village centre will not normally be supported unless it can be satisfactorily demonstrated through a thorough and proportionate marketing exercise lasting not less than 12 months that the existing use is no longer viable and that other uses under E Class are also likely to prove unviable.  Proposals which would harm the role of the centre will not be acceptable.

Where a proposal will result in the loss of a shop of under 280sqm selling essential goods, including food, and is located farther than 1km from a similar shop, defined as a local community use under F2 Use Class, permission will not normally be granted unless a suitable alternative provision of a similar shop is included within the proposal or where evidence is provided clearly demonstrating that the shop has been appropriately marketed for a continuous period of 12 months or more without successful conclusion on terms that reflect the lawful use and condition of the premises – this evidence will be considered in the context of local market conditions and the state of the wider national economy

Note: In the event that the Use Classes Order changes during the life of this Plan, then the closest new Use Classes to those classified as Town Centre Uses by the NPPF will apply for the purpose of applying the above policy, provided such new Use Classes are reasonably similar to the ones being replaced.

6.8 City and Town Centre Frontages

6.8.1 Shop and business frontages make an important contribution to the character of centres and shopping streets. Great care is necessary to ensure that new frontages or the alteration and replacement of existing frontages in centres not only adds visual interest to the street scene, but also reflects the architectural style of the buildings to which they relate and the character of the area. A good frontage can contribute significantly to the experience of visitors and, conversely, a poorly designed frontage can have a lasting negative experience for users.

6.8.2 It is not just the design and appearance of frontages within town centres that have an impact on their character but also security shutters. Whilst the security of shops and other commercial premises is important, shuttering of display windows can produce an intimidating street scene, particularly at night, and can detract from the vitality of a shopping street or centre.

6.8.3 Internal security shutters which are transparent or perforated to an extent that the area behind is highly visible are preferred over external shutters (permission is not required for internal shutters). However, where external shutters are proposed, the preference is for transparent or heavily perforated shutters rather than solid shutters, as they allow visibility into the premises, are less visually intrusive and create a more welcoming environment.

Policy NS41: City and Town Centre Frontages

This policy applies to all proposals for town centre uses within defined city and town centres including shops, banks, restaurants, leisure uses or all uses within areas identified as Primary Shopping Areas in tiers 1 and 2 of the retail hierarchy in Policy S35.

Proposals for new frontages or alterations to existing frontages within an identified centre will be permitted provided the proposal:

  1. is of a high quality design and is sympathetic in scale, proportion and appearance to the building of which it forms part, and to the character of the surrounding street scene; and
  2. protects, and where possible enhances, traditional or original frontage or features that are of architectural or historic interest, particularly if the building is listed or within a conservation area; and
  3. is designed to allow equal access for all users.

Where a proposal includes the provision of external security shutters, permission will only be granted where:

 

  1. it is demonstrated that there is a persistent problem of crime or vandalism affecting the property which cannot be satisfactorily and reasonably addressed by an alternative measure; and
  2. the property is not a listed building or situated in a conservation area; and
  3. the security shutter is transparent or heavily perforated to an extent that the area behind is highly visible; and
  4. the shutter is designed to a high standard and is in keeping with the character and appearance of the building and its surroundings.