Planning Portal

PPS 5: Retailing and Town Centres
Town Centres: Diversity of Use in Town Centres

22. The diversity of uses in town centres makes an important contribution to their vitality and viability. This, combined with their accessibility, means that they are often the most appropriate location for activities that attract many people. Te appropriate mix of uses will depend in the nature and size of the town, however there will be a presumption in favour of development that would make a positive contribution to ensuring that existing town centres continue to provide a focus for shopping.
23. A compact and attractive shopping environment is important in that it promotes choice and convenience. Within primary retail core areas, the Department will control non-retail uses at ground floor level. Applications for change of use from shop to local services, such as building society offices, banks and estate agents, restaurants or hot-food take-away premises may be acceptable except where:
  • there would be a significant loss of retail floor space at ground level;
  • a clustering of non-retail uses created; or
  • the area overall is tending to be dominated by non-retail uses.
Within town centres, but outside the primary retail core, proposals for local services' offices and food uses will be determined on their merits. In smaller towns, where retailing and services are grouped together in the town centre, each case will be determined on the potential impact on the centre itself.
24. In order to ensure a compact and vital retail core the increase of retail floor space through the refurbishment of existing units and sympathetic redevelopment will be encouraged.
25. Town centres will be promoted as the principal locations for office, leisure, entertainment, cultural and service uses. Proposals for such development will be encouraged where they contribute to the diversity and vitality of each centre, without encroaching on the primary retail core, where defined, at ground floor level.
26. The Department will encourage major office, leisure, entertainment, cultural and service uses to locate in town centres. Where such uses cannot be accommodated within the town centre the Department will favour locations which are on the edge of the town centre.
27. Residential development within town centres can contribute to its vitality. The living over the Shop Scheme could also make a significant contribution to the enhancement of town centres and offer opportunities for supporting urban regeneration policies. Planning permission may be granted for residential use above shops and other business premises, within town centres, provided that the primary retail core and commercial functions are not prejudiced and that they comply with normal planning and environmental considerations. The level of car parking provision which would be appropriate, for such residential development, will be considered in the circumstances of each particular case.
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