Planning Portal

DCAN 4: Restaurants, Cafes and Fast Food Outlets
Assesment Proposals in Town Centres

4.8 Taking into account the locational guidance set out above, the assessment of proposals for new restaurants, cafés or fast food outlets, or for the change of use of the ground floor of established shops to such uses, in primary retail core areas, will involve consideration of a number of factors including:
  • The impact of the proposal (including any extension to an existing use), by itself or cumulatively, with other non-retail uses, on the role, character, vitality 1 and viability 2 of the town centre. While, restaurants, cafés and fast food outlets contribute to the variety and attraction of town centres, the intrusion, proliferation and/or clustering of new or additional uses of this nature can also be seriously detrimental to the character and vitality of the primary retail core. Where a primary retail frontage has been identified within the town centre, restaurants, cafés, or fast food outlets are unlikely to be permitted where it is considered that the integrity and continuity of the existing retail frontage would be eroded. Proposals for such uses in frontages where there are concentrations of existing and/or approved similar uses are unlikely to be acceptable.
  • The impact in terms of the size of the premises and whether they can be absorbed without dominating the prime retail frontages in visual terms.
  • The quality and attractiveness of the proposed development, as the design and appearance of town centre shop fronts and signage are matters to which the Department attaches considerable importance. Proposals should avoid giving the appearance of a ‘dead’ frontage and should therefore pay particular attention 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; and
    • the character of the surrounding area.
  • The likely effects on the amenity of the shopping area and residents within it. This will involve consideration of the potential of the proposal to adversely affect the ambience of the shopping area for other reasons, for example, unsightly litter or excessive late night noise. Concern over such issues may be of particular significance in sensitive areas such as conservation areas where litter and smells could spoil the enjoyment of visitors or discourage residential occupation within the conservation area, thereby harming its character.
  • Compliance with development plan policies.
  • 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.
4.9 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.
1 Vitality is a measure of how busy a town centre is. (PPS 5, paragraph 18)
2 Viability is a measure of the town centre’s capacity to attract ongoing investment for maintenance, improvement and adaptation to changing needs. (PPS 5, paragraph 18)
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