BUSINESS | Change Of Class For Commercial Spaces

6.3 CHANGE OF CLASS FOR COMMERCIAL SPACES

6.3.1    The retail environment of Saffron Walden represents both an asset and an opportunity to the town. The town centre of Saffron Walden is categorised as either Primary Frontage or Secondary Frontage and is mapped below. This map broadly reflects the map included in the eLP [1]. The SWNP map differs by defining the High Street as Primary Retail Frontage and not Secondary Retail Frontage, in order to protect the retailers already located on the High Street and to prevent this street from being eroded away from the retail core of the town.


[1]  http://udc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7cc9bd5aef43445bbbf6c454741364a7

6.3.2    Main town centre uses are defined by the NPPF as including: retail development; leisure; entertainment and more intensive sport and recreation uses; offices; and arts, cultural and tourism development.

6.3.3    The map above defines the core of the town centre, and the primary and secondary frontages within the core [1]. Primary frontages are the retail core of the town and this is where the majority of the footfall occurs. The retail core of the town must be protected as incremental changes away from retail use within these streets would gradually reduce footfall, making remaining retail units less viable. Secondary frontages can include a higher mix of town centre but non-retail use.

6.3.4    In efforts to promote housebuilding, as well as to bring vitality to town centres where it is lacking, the NPPF encourages a mix of residential and commercial use within town centres. This NPPF policy may be most relevant to, and helpful for the rejuvenation of, the centres of large (and possibly post-industrial) towns which are combating decline. In contrast the small market town of Saffron Walden has a compact and busy town centre, immediately bounded on all sides by housing. Additional housing at ground floor level within the town centre would be detrimental to footfall and will not be supported, while housing will generally be supported on first and higher floors. However, applications for residential development on first floors will need to be carefully assessed, particularly where the footprint of the store below is small. Many stores require the first floor for storage and office space, and removing this may in turn make the store on the ground floor unviable.

6.3.5    Town centre use of space should not decline in provision, as once lost it is hard, if not impossible, to return a domestic dwelling into commercial space, and keeping an interesting town centre for residents and visitors is key to the economic survival of Saffron Walden. Article 4 Directions will be sought to support the policy on town centre uses.

6.3.6    Consideration must always be given to the concept that the town centre is first a commercial centre, and commercial ventures that are in line with the objectives of the SWNP will be supported. For example, visitors to Saffron Walden who come for Audley End House or Bridge End Gardens may be persuaded to turn a day trip into a weekend if the evening economy offers restaurants. Residential development in suitable locations will attract people who value having an evening economy on their doorstep. The ‘agent of change’ principle is described in paragraph 182 of the NPPF: “existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted after they were established. Where the operation of an existing business or community facility could have a significant adverse effect on new development (including changes of use) in its vicinity, the applicant (or ‘agent of change’) should be required to provide suitable mitigation before the development has been completed.” Application of the agent of change principle ensures the continuing viability of commercial premises, particularly those that serve the hospitality economy. Similarly, local residents’ objections to new premises applications in the town centre, for example, should be considered carefully against the wider potential benefits of the proposed new business.

6.3.7    In order to protect the vibrancy of town centres, the NPPF instructs planners to use a ‘town centre first’ hierarchy when allocating uses for sites. This means that the first choice for new retail space should always be in the town centre. Should space not be available, the next choice should be the edge of the centre. Allocating and building retail sites in out of town locations should be seen as a last resort.


[1]  The map is based on the UDC eLP town centre map, with slight increase of primary frontage and decrease of secondary frontage, where this can be justified by current uses at the time of writing the SWNP. The outline showing the footprint of the town centre is identical.

PLANNING CLASSES

6.3.8                Property is categorised by planning use class, as set out in the table below.

Class   

Use

*Main Town Centre uses as per NPPF

A1

Shops and retail outlets

*

A2

Professional and financial services

*

A3

Food and drink

*

A4

Drinking establishments

*

A5

Hot food and takeaway

*

B1

Business offices

*

B2-B8

Industrial

 

C1

Hotels

 

C2

Residential – specific residents e.g. care homes

 

C3

Residential – dwelling house

 

C4

Residential – houses in multiple occupation

 

D1

Non-residential institutions, including health, education, museums, libraries, places of public worship

*

D2

Entertainment and leisure

*

Sui Generis

Uses which do not fall into any of the other categories.

 

POLICY SW11 TOWN CENTRE USES

1.  The following policies do not apply to the 17 Market Hill & 29-31 Church Street (part of the old Sun Inn) Grade I listed building, which has its own policy.

2.  Along Primary shopping frontages as identified on the map Saffron Walden Town Centre at paragraph 6.3.1:

i)  Change of use of the ground floor from A1 to NPPF-defined ground floor main town centre uses will only be permitted if the applicant is able to demonstrate that the unit is not viable as an A1 shop use. The non-viability of the A1 unit would need to be proven by marketing and an independent assessment in accordance with the requirements set out by Uttlesford District Council; and

ii)  Change of use of the ground floor from NPPF-defined ground floor main town centre uses to uses falling outside that definition will only be permitted if the applicant is able to demonstrate that the unit is not viable as a main town centre use. The non-viability of the unit would need to be proven by marketing and an independent assessment in accordance with the requirements set out by Uttlesford District Council

3.  Along Secondary shopping frontages as identified on the map Saffron Walden Town Centre:

i)  Change of use of A1 shop units to NPPF-defined main town centre uses of retail, leisure, office and other main town centre uses will be permitted; and

ii)  The change from NPPF-defined main town centre ground floor uses to uses falling outside that definition will only be permitted if the applicant is able to demonstrate that the unit is not viable as a main town centre use. The non-viability of the unit would need to be proven by marketing and an independent assessment in accordance with the requirements set out by Uttlesford District Council.

4.  Where it will not compromise the ability of local ground floor businesses to remain viable, along both Primary and Secondary shopping frontages change of use to residential will be permitted on upper floors.

5.  Proposals for C1 hotels will be supported subject to the policy on building design.

6.  The ‘agent of change’ principle applies to all conversions to residential (C) class uses.

7.  No more than two gambling operators may be licensed in Saffron Walden at any one time.

8.  Planning applications for additional hot food takeaway establishments will be subject to considerations of impact on local amenity and public health.

This policy supports the Neighbourhood Plan Objectives 1,4,5

WE WELCOME YOUR FEEDBACK ON THIS POLICY SW11

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6.3.9    Whilst welcoming the ‘town centre first’ objective of the NPPF, the SWNP makes an exception to this rule for convenience stores which may be built in residential areas. By providing everyday essentials locally to where people live, these shops can be a lifeline to the elderly and less mobile and can help to reduce traffic.

POLICY SW12 CONVENIENCE STORES IN RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBOURHOODS

1.  Proposals for convenience stores integrated into residential neighbourhoods will be supported subject to the following:

a)  They will not undermine the viability or vitality of the town centre;

b)  They are located and designed to encourage access on foot or by bicycle, or near to a bus stop; and

c)  They will not exacerbate traffic levels in the neighbourhood.

This policy supports the Neighbourhood Plan Objectives 1,4,5

WE WELCOME YOUR FEEDBACK ON THIS POLICY SW12

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6.3.10   17 Market Hill & 29-31 Church Street (The Old Sun Inn) is a Grade I listed building and is particularly special to the town centre. Any usage of the building must be respectful of the delicate fabric of the structure, and therefore the building has its own policy. Without setting a definitive list of uses it is appropriate to consider the impacts of each use, and the policy gives guidelines for consideration.

Photo reproduced from UDC website

POLICY SW13 17 MARKET HILL & 29-31 CHURCH STREET

In assessing potential suitable uses that are compatible with the historic nature of the building (part of the old Sun Inn), the following considerations must be borne in mind:

  • The need to minimise harmful or intrusive intervention, for example, a preference for occupants that use freestanding fittings, pose a low fire risk and do not rely on messy activities (such as heavy use of water internally).
  • Compatibility between ground floor and first floor activities, for example, avoiding uses at street level that could adversely affect first floor residential occupation (by being noisy, smelly or unsociable).

 

This policy supports the Neighbourhood Plan Objectives 1,4,5

 

WE WELCOME YOUR FEEDBACK ON THIS POLICY SW13

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Neighbourhood Plan Objectives

Objective 1

Saffron Walden will be an economically active and self-sustaining town, offering equal opportunities to all.

Objective 2

Saffron Walden’s residents will be able to live as healthily as possible.

Objective 3

Saffron Walden will be an environmentally sustainable town.

Objective 4

Saffron Walden’s heritage assets, high quality landscape and conservation areas will be protected or enhanced.

Objective 5

Saffron Walden will retain its market-town feel and community spirit.

POLICIES

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