Planning Portal

DCAN 4: Restaurants, Cafes and Fast Food Outlets
Assesment of proposals in District and Local Centres

4.12 When dealing with applications relating to new buildings, or the change of use of retail/non-retail premises to restaurants, cafés and fast food outlets in district or local centres, a number of factors need to be considered:
  • The impact of the development on the vitality and viability of the centre, and the need to retain local retailing. The proposal should not by itself or cumulatively with other non-retail uses, undermine 3 District Centres are defined in PPS 5 ‘Retailing and Town Centres’ as ‘Groups of shops, separate from the town centre, usually containing at least one food supermarket or superstore and non-retail service uses such as banks, building societies and restaurants’. Local Centres are defined as ‘Small groupings of shops, typically comprising a general grocery store, a sub-post office, occasionally a pharmacy and other small shops of a local nature’
  • the primary role of the ‘centre’ in providing for local convenience shopping needs. In this respect, the following will be regarded as particularly relevant:
  • the level and nature of existing non-retail uses; and - the number of unimplemented valid planning permissions for change of use to restaurants, cafés and fast food outlets.
  • The impact in terms of the size of the premises and whether they can be absorbed without dominating the district or local centre in the visual sense.
  • The quality and attractiveness of the proposed development. In order to avoid giving the giving the appearance of a ‘dead’ frontage, attention should be paid to: -
    • the scale of the proposal;
    • the materials, colours and lettering to be used; - the design and appearance of security shutters and grilles; the design and appearance of signage and means of illumination;
    • the design and appearance of the ground floor in terms of its relationship to upper floors;
    • the implications for access to upper floors;
    • the relationship to adjoining buildings;
    • the character of the surrounding area.
  • Adverse impact on the amenity of any adjoining residential areas in terms of noise disturbance, smell, fumes or litter. Unlike town centres, where there may be a residential component, district centres are often entirely commercial in nature, purpose-built and selfcontained. However, they may be located in close proximity to established residential areas and so their potential impact on amenity is likely to be a consideration in determining their overall acceptability. In addition, along the commercialised radial routes, many retail and non-retail premises will often have dwellings nearby or flats directly above. If it is not possible to reduce amenity impacts, for example, from late night activity, smells and fumes to a level acceptable in such locations, this could render the premises unsuitable for restaurants, cafés and fast food outlets.
  • Likely impact on the amenity of the centre itself. This will involve consideration not only of the matters referred to above but also the potential of the proposal to adversely affect the ambience of the centre for other reasons, for example, problems with litter or excessive late night noise.
  • The possibility of the proposal causing parking and/or traffic difficulties with associated congestion and inconvenience, thereby jeopardising the safety of road users.
  • The period for which the premises have been vacant and the general level of vacancy in the area. This will be dependent on the merits of each individual case.
4.13 If a proposed restaurant, café or fast food outlet can be shown to cause demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance, particularly in relation to the issues outlined above, the application is likely to be refused.
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