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Canary Wharf
Town Centres

Canary Wharf Strategic Town Centre Growth Strategy

Canary Wharf Group instructed the preparation of a strategic Retail Study focusing on the current role of Canary Wharf and implications of future retail/leisure growth in respect of the wider retail hierarchy and impact.

The report guided their town centre development strategy, was submitted as part of Canary Wharf’s North Quay planning application, and is also being used to inform representations to Opportunity Area, and Local and Regional planning policy reviews. We have successfully secured the step change of Canary Wharf from Major to Metropolitan Centre status in the London Plan review.

Leighton Buzzard Town Centre
Town Centres

Land South of High Street, Leighton Buzzard Town Centre

The preparation of a market intelligence report for Land South of High Street.  This was a long-standing major development opportunity, previously identified as being appropriate for a mixed-use extension to the town centre shopping area.

Underpinned by a town centre health check, opportunity analysis, commercial property demand, developer consultation and market testing, the report provided Central Bedfordshire Council with an up-to-date planning and market view on viable development options including type and scale of town centre mix.

Tottenham Hale Retail Park
Town Centres

Redevelopment of Tottenham Hale Retail Park

Urban Shape team members provided the evidence to support the London Borough of Haringey’s policy aspiration to transform and upgrade Tottenham Hale Retail Park into a new town centre serving existing and new communities in the east Tottenham area. Our evidence provided guidance on the range and mix of uses which should come forward and demonstrated that the impact on existing centres would be acceptable.

Westfield, Stratford City
Town CentresPlanning Applications

Westfield, Stratford City

Westfield Stratford City created a new Metropolitan Centre for East London incorporating c.176,000 sq m of town centre retail, anchored by John Lewis.

Members of our team prepared a regional Retail Impact Assessment to underpin the Stratford City planning application; produced further detailed supplementary analysis dealing with the leisure elements of the proposal; and examined the scope for a wider redevelopment of the centre including parts of the existing centre of Stratford.

Consultation with adjoining boroughs was integral to the process.  Regular meetings with the GLA and other key stakeholders were key to addressing any concerns arising in respect of the scale and impact of the proposed development.

Wood Wharf, Canary Wharf
Town CentresPlanning Applications

Wood Wharf, Canary Wharf

Members of the team were instructed to prepare a Retail Impact Assessment in support of the mixed use development of Wood Wharf, a major regeneration site adjacent to Canary Wharf.

The proposal comprised approximately 600,000 sq m gross of new floorspace including up to 27,000 sq m gross retail (A1-A5) in the high end, luxury fashion and global brands sector, with a specific focus on designer and independent operators.

Dickens Yard, Ealing
Town CentresPlanning Applications

Dickens Yard, Ealing

St George (West London Limited) instructed the preparation of a retail impact assessment in support of an amendment to an approved planning application at Dickens Yard, Ealing. The proposal would allow the entire c. 10,400 sq m commercial floorspace to be granted as flexible A1, A3, A4, D1 and D2 floorspace.

The assessment demonstrated the important contribution which cafe, restaurant and drinking establishment uses can make to the overall vitality and viability of a centre, with national trends indicating that customers are increasingly preferring to spend disposable income on these uses in preference to retail.

Coopers Square, Burton upon Trent
Town CentresPlanning Applications

Coopers Square, Burton upon Trent

Members of the team prepared the retail impact assessment in support of development at the Coopers Square Shopping Centre in Burton town centre. The Grosvenor scheme comprised a new Debenhams anchor store and 10,000 sq m of new retail floorspace on a council-owned car park site.

Preston Tithebarn
Town CentresPlanning Applications

Preston Tithebarn

Lend Lease and Grosvenor Developments commissioned the preparation of a major sub-regional Retail Impact Assessment.  Members of the team helped secure hybrid planning permission for the retail-led, mixed-use redevelopment of 15 hectares of Preston city centre.

The proposed scheme comprised a new retail quarter (c.82,000 sq m of Class A1), offices (c.20,000 sq m), a new leisure destination (cinema, family restaurants etc), residential units and a new transport interchange.

Stratford Town Centre
Town Centres

The Future of Stratford Town Centre

The London Borough of Newham commissioned an independent assessment of Stratford Town Centre and its future role alongside Westfield Stratford City.

The methodology incorporated a detailed catchment analysis, operator composition, points of differentiation between the two shopping centres, the role of markets and ethnic retailing, and commercial advice in respect of demand and realistic operator line up.

A recommended strategy advised on the likely composition and differentiated role of Stratford Town Centre alongside the major Westfield regional shopping centre.

Lakeside Regional Shopping Centre
Town Centres

Lakeside Regional Shopping Centre, Single Issue Review

We were instructed to consider the future growth and role of Lakeside regional shopping centre and the implications for the wider network of town centres.

This involved a detailed assessment of the need for and impact of further retail and leisure development at Lakeside. We subsequently defended our evidence at Examination and our study was used to inform the East of England Plan (The ‘RSS’) and Thurrock Council’s adopted Core Strategy.

Evidence Base

London Borough of Ealing

London Borough of Ealing commissioned a two-stage report. The first focused on Ealing Metropolitan Town Centre, and an analysis of current performance and positioning within the sub-regional and London-wide network of town and Metropolitan Centres. The study explored change in composition and operator strength, identified the roles of primary and secondary frontages, and provided an update in respect of development site opportunities – both identified and emerging.

Stage 2 brought the focus to the wider borough including the town centres of Southall, Greenford, Acton and Hanwell. Underpinned by a new Household Telephone Shopper Survey – and in addition to qualitative and quantitative considerations and in-depth recommendations – the study was tailored to incorporate the role of ethnic retailing and specialist markets across the borough, and drew comparisons with previous studies in respect of trade retention and leakage in order to gauge trend-line performance.

Evidence Base

Adur & Worthing Councils

We have advised Adur & Worthing Councils for a number of years, most recently in respect of a consolidation and growth strategy for Worthing town centre and the district centres across the Borough. A new household telephone survey and in-centre shopper survey formed a key data input for both qualitative and quantitative elements.

In addition to setting out the current health and performance of the Borough’s retail and leisure offer, the outputs provided an in-depth strategy for Worthing town centre. Considerations encompassed a changing socio-economic catchment profile, clearly identified development opportunity sites, and support for a step change in the town centre retail offer. The strategy aimed to enable new floorspace to accommodate national multiple retailers to sit alongside high-end, independent and niche operators within the seaside town’s more historic built environment.

Evidence Base

London Borough of Brent

Our team were instructed by the London Borough of Brent to prepare a borough wide Retail and Leisure Needs Study. The project brief recognised the modern day challenges to town centres including omni channel shopping and changes to how people spend their leisure time. The Council acknowledged the diversification of town centres, and instructed us to take account of these trends and synergies with their Employment and Strategic Housing Assessments.

The study provided advice on shaping the future role of Brent’s seventeen town centres and identified the quantum and phasing of different types of retail and leisure uses to support the changing needs and lifestyles of the existing and new population. Outputs advised on the potential future designation of existing retail centres in the hierarchy.

Evidence Base

Harlow Council

Our team has worked with Harlow Council for a number of years, most recently preparing an update to the retail and town centres evidence base. The study forms part of the evidence base underpinning the production of the Council’s new Local Plan, but will also be used to assist in the determination of applications for new retail and leisure development in the District.

In addition to qualitative health checks and quantitative need forecasting, the outputs provided a high-level consideration of development opportunity sites, and set out detailed town centre and wider strategic recommendations with which to plan for moving forwards. The study covered the entirety of Harlow District, with a focus on Harlow town centre and the supporting network of neighbourhood centres, and, to a more limited extent, the ‘hatches’ which meet local shopping needs.

Evidence Base

Joint Western Berkshire (Reading, Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire and Wokingham)

Our team was instructed to provide a sub-regional retail study covering the four ‘Western Berkshire’ authorities of Reading, Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire and Wokingham. A new household survey (2,000 respondents) identified the extent to which shopping patterns had changed in recent years, influenced by new town centre developments within the authority areas (e.g. in Newbury) and in key competing locations such as High Wycombe.

The study discussed the implications of current national market trends and consequent localised impacts, identified current shopping patterns and catchment areas, and forecast the need for additional retail and leisure floorspace across the four local authority areas. Integral to the study was the consideration of impact of major investment currently underway in the area’s key centres, most notably Bracknell and Wokingham.

Evidence Base

London Borough of Newham

Our team has advised Newham since 2005, initially instructed to undertake a study on Stratford town centre and its future potential, vitality and viability alongside the development of Westfield Stratford City.

We were subsequently instructed by the council to conduct a borough-wide retail and town centre study. This focused on meeting the need for new commercial floorspace over the development plan and identifying the most suitable strategy for growth and change across the extensive network of local, district and major town centres.

The work formed a key part of the LDF evidence base, informing also SPDs, individual town centre management plans, and the assessment of relevant planning applications. We completed an update to this study in 2016.

Evidence Base

Peterborough City Council

Our team first advised Peterborough City Council in 2009 when we prepared the Peterborough Retail Study; and we were subsequently reappointed to prepare the Peterborough Retail Study Update.

The Retail Study Update provides a comprehensive review of the need for new retail development across the city to form part of the Council’s evidence base for the city wide retail strategy. The outputs informed the preparation of the Peterborough City Centre DPD. Using the results of new household telephone survey data, we were able to identify the scale and nature of additional retail provision that may be appropriate across the city up to 2026.

Members of our team have also previously provided independent retail planning advice to the Council in relation to a number of foodstore development proposals across the city.

Evidence Base

Elmbridge Borough Council

Our team advised Elmbridge Borough Council on their future retail and town centre needs. The report set out the scope for new development in an area where the shopping patterns are largely dictated by the influence of surrounding larger centres such as Kingston-upon-Thames and Guildford.

A major new town centre development in Walton-on-Thames formed a key part of the analysis, establishing the impact on local residents’ shopping patterns. The study also considered the role and function of the Borough’s network of smaller local centres, drawing on a gap analysis audit of key local facilities to establish the extent to which they were effectively meeting residents’ day to day needs.

Evidence Base


The overall aim of the Retail, Leisure and Town Centre Study was to provide an up-to-date and robust evidence base on retail and leisure needs within the borough to inform the preparation of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council’s emerging Doncaster Local Plan.

Underpinned by a new household telephone survey, the key recommendations were centred around the leisure sector, including providing for a new cinema, family entertainment destination, and restaurant and cafes. This was concluded to present the greatest opportunity for the strengthening of the vitality and viability of Doncaster town centre over the course of the plan period, reflecting national trends towards diversification.

Sustainable Communities

Rowner Village Estate, Gosport

The Rowner Regeneration Partnership commissioned a study to identify the most appropriate scale of retail development at Rowner in Gosport in the context of the Borough’s retail strategy. The Rowner renewal regeneration proposals included the demolition of run down housing and retail buildings, and their replacement with modern homes and facilities designed to create a sustainable community, including a new foodstore.

Members of our team identified what the most appropriate scale of retail floorspace would be without having a detrimental impact on the network of centres within the catchment area.

Peel Centre
Sustainable CommunitiesPlanning Applications

Peel Centre, Colindale, London Borough of Barnet

Our team prepared the Retail Impact Assessment accompanying a Hybrid Planning Application seeking permission for residential led mixed use redevelopment of the former Peel Centre site in Colindale in the London Borough of Barnet.

The report assessed the retail elements against the key provisions set out in national policy, seeking permission for up to 10,000 sq m of flexible town centre uses (A1-A4, D1, D2), including a foodstore of up to 3,000 sq m net. The document set out how the new floorspace will serve the new community being created, and gave consideration to consumer choice, competition and accessibility to ensure the delivery of sustainable development.

Olympics 2012 London Legacy Communities Scheme
Sustainable CommunitiesPlanning Applications

Olympics 2012, London Legacy Communities Scheme

In order to deliver the long-term post-Olympic regeneration of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Legacy Company prepared the Legacy Communities Scheme (LCS) Planning Application. Members of our team prepared an evidence based report to inform the emerging LCS and advised on the appropriate scale, location and format of a new network of sustainable communities across the Park.

Subsequent work included the preparation of the Retail and Leisure Supporting Statement accompanying the planning application, which provided the basis for the future development of the London Olympic 2012 and Paralympic Games.

Sustainable CommunitiesPlanning Applications

Abbey Area Redevelopment

On behalf of the London Borough of Camden a Retail Statement was prepared to accompany the outline planning application for the residential-led regeneration of the Abbey Road area. The proposals included 300 new dwellings, 1,300 sq m retail (A1-A5) including a small supermarket, and a new health centre.

The Retail Statement considered the application proposals within the national planning policy framework and demonstrated compliance with the relevant policy tests. The methodology emphasised the overarching policy to promote sustainable economic growth and to identify deficiencies in the provision of local convenience shopping and other facilities which serve people’s day-to-day needs.

Sheerwater Estate
Sustainable CommunitiesPlanning Applications

Sheerwater Estate, Woking

Pinnacle Regeneration commissioned the preparation of a Retail Supporting Statement in respect of proposals to regenerate the Sheerwater Estate in Woking. Being within the 14% most deprived areas nationally the residential led regeneration scheme aims to transform the estate into a balanced and sustainable neighbourhood.

The proposals included 984 new homes, 18,000 sq ft Use Class A1/2/3/4, 81,000 sq ft Use Class D1/D2. The retail element proposes the demolition of the existing local centre, and the provision of a consolidated retail offer around a new market square with prominent and visible linkages with a recently constructed Asda superstore.

Sustainable Communities

Retail and Future Options Study, Merstham Estate

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council commissioned the preparation of a Future Options Study for the Merstham Estate Local Centre. The project aimed to help deliver the published Regeneration Plan by setting out options for the delivery of future retail and ancillary provision to meet the needs of the local residents.

Recommendations were presented in respect of the appropriate scale of new retail development, alongside recommendations for the improvement of the existing shopping parade and positioning of a new GP practice, library, church and community facilities. Members of our team added value by managing commercial input in respect of land ownerships, funding sources and viability options.

Sustainable CommunitiesPlanning Applications

South Oxhey, Hertfordshire

Three Rivers District Council selected Countryside and Home Group as the preferred developers for the South Oxhey Initiative. The scheme involved the phased comprehensive redevelopment of the land at South Oxhey to include the demolition of existing buildings and provision of residential-led mixed use development.

Land uses included up to 5,137 sq m town centre uses, including a 1,714 sq m foodstore, a new district centre, and up to 514 new homes. Our team was instructed to prepare the supporting Retail Statement focusing on the relocation and consolidation of the district centre.

Royal Wharf
Sustainable CommunitiesPlanning Applications

Royal Wharf, River Thames, London Borough of Newham

Ballymore (Clearstorm Limited and Heracles Limited) commissioned the preparation of a Retail Supporting Statement. The report accompanied the outline planning application for the comprehensive residential-led, mixed use redevelopment of the Minoco site in the Royal Docks area of Newham. The site was long identified as a priority area for new development, regeneration and investment, leading to the creation of a sustainable new community with associated local centre.

The scheme incorporates 3,385 new residential units, 10,000 sq m of commercial retail and business uses, and community and health facilities. The retail statement ensured the scheme was endorsed through a robust test of the proposals against the relevant planning policy framework.

Development Management

Proposed Westfield Extensions – East and West London

Advice on the impacts associated with planned extensions to Westfield’s shopping centres in Stratford (on behalf of the London Legacy Development Corporation) and Shepherd’s Bush (on behalf of London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham).

The analysis focused on the impact of the proposals on other nearby higher-order centres including Canary Wharf, as well as reviewing the level of ‘self-impact’ which would take place on existing retail provision in Stratford and Shepherds Bush town centres.

Development Management

Proposed IKEA – Adur & Worthing Councils

Advice to Adur & Worthing Council in respect of a proposed IKEA store. Our advice reviewed IKEA’s business model and recent development activity in the UK, and the compliance of the application with the sequential and impact tests.

The unique nature of IKEA’s trading format allowed us to test assumptions used in the application against similar applications elsewhere in the UK, whilst consultation with the applicant led to further deliberations and supporting information in respect of the flexibility element of the sequential test.

Paddington Cube
Development Management

Proposed Paddington Cube – Westminster City Council

Advice to Westminster City Council on the impacts associated with the proposed retail and leisure floorspace forming part of the £775m Paddington Cube development – a major edge-of-centre site adjacent to Paddington train station.

Our assessment focused on visitation patterns related to the train station, pedestrian through-traffic, and dwell time, leading to conclusions in respect of the impacts of the proposal on nearby district centres. A number of these centres were considered to be underperforming and potentially vulnerable to further trade diversion.

York City Centre
Evidence Base

City of York Council

Our team advised York City Council on a strategy to sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of York City Centre, and to make provision to meet current and projected retail and town centre needs over the development plan period – both quantitatively and spatially.

We subsequently advised the council on the implications of York Central (60ha) as a potential strategic retail/leisure growth area, combining our planning and economic analysis with a sound understanding of commercial market realities.

London Borough of Croydon
Development Management

Proposed Out-of-Centre Retail – London Borough of Croydon

Advice to the London Borough of Croydon in respect of two out-of-centre planning applications for new retail development; the first forming a large new Next store on the outskirts of Croydon, and the second a redevelopment of a retail park in Thornton Heath.

In both instructions, we advised on compliance with the sequential and impact test, having regard to the proposed major retail-led development coming forward in Croydon town centre.

Vale of White Horse
Development Management

Proposed Retail – Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Council

Advice in respect of several high profile and contentious planning applications for new retail developments across Oxfordshire, reviewing their compliance with the sequential and impact tests.

Proposals included a new supermarket in the village of Thame; the mixed-use redevelopment of Didcot Power Station; applications for new branches of Marks & Spencer Foodhalls; and a new retail park on the outskirts of Faringdon.

Development Management

Proposed Retail Park – London Borough of Merton

Advice to the London Borough of Merton in respect of a proposed ‘bulky goods’ retail park near Raynes Park. The analysis considered the extent to which the proposed development, when combined with a previously-approved retail scheme on a neighbouring site, would result in a ‘significant adverse’ cumulative impact on the local network of town centres such as Wimbledon, Kingston and Sutton.

Silvertown Quays
Development Management

Proposed International Brand Retailing – Silverton Quays, London Borough of Newham

An independent critique of the retail statement submitted in support the proposed mixed-use redevelopment of the Silvertown Quays site in east London. The development proposed up to 266,500 sq m of ‘brand accommodation’, defined as buildings accommodating a mix of uses including demonstration, exhibition, museum, research & development, education, office, workshops, display and catering.

Our advice to LB Newham considered the acceptability of the proposed development against the sequential and impact tests, and recommended brand-related ‘controls’ which could be attached to any planning permissions to ensure the development would not have an unacceptable impact on the network of town centres in Newham and the wider east London catchment area.

Development Management

Proposed Out-of-Centre Retail – South Norfolk District Council

Review of Planning and Retail Statement in support of proposals for a new retail warehouse unit and variation of condition to allow open A1 non-food sales at an existing retail warehouse unit in Wymondham, Norfolk. We provided retained follow-on advice in respect of a further planning application to allow convenience goods (food) sales from the same unit.

Development Potential

Specific case studies are not provided given client confidentiality, but we do provide further details of this service offer below.

Our team prepares detailed planning appraisals on behalf of our private sector clients in order to understand the development potential of sites. Either prior to purchase as part of an investment decision, or as a means to add value to an existing site or portfolio, our in-depth investigations enable clients to consider options around increasing the attraction and value of their assets.

The scope of work adopted intends to gauge the level of planning support, and can include a detailed planning history, review of the policy framework, and a planning audit review of the existing planning permissions which cover the retail/leisure units and/or site. Once the baseline is established, the analysis draws conclusions in respect of development potential in planning terms for different types and scale of floorspace, and alterations that may be deemed acceptable.

Reports examine the key planning policy tests that would apply in promoting further retail/mixed-use floorspace and provide initial views on the planning prospects of success. The outputs inform the client in respect of emerging scheme designs and financial viability.

Planning Applications

Retained Advisors – Retail Operators

Our team regularly advises retail and leisure operators and financial institutions on a wide range of planning matters across the UK from initial site appraisal investment decisions, through to planning applications for new/replacement stores, extensions, and minor works, as well as preparing retail impact assessments and planning statements, and co-ordinating wider project teams.

Planning Applications

Gallagher Retail Park, Coventry

Members of our team were retained in relation to a range of proposals aimed at modernising and rebranding the retail park. Alongside improved elevations and signage applications consent was sought to deliver a number of retail ‘pods’ to support retail and restaurant uses. Permission was also secured to relax the permitted range of goods to include toys and games and to deliver mezzanine floorspace.

London Olympics
Planning Applications

2012 London Olympics, Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA)

Following confirmation of London as host City, the ODA commissioned the preparation of a retail impact assessment and retail planning advice to inform the wider masterplan/outline planning application for the Olympic Park. The proposals included the provision of up to 26,000 sq m Class A1-A5 retail and leisure floorspace. The scheme included a mix of permanent and temporary ‘pop up floorspace’.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Planning Applications

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – Olympicopolis and Stratford Waterfront

CED will create a world class education and cultural district, showcasing exceptional art, dance, history, craft, science, technology and cutting edge design. A number of renowned institutions have already made plans to set up a permanent presence on the two strategic sites. UCL East will be the site of a new university campus for University College London (UCL), while Stratford Waterfront features a new campus for the University of the Arts London, along with major new spaces for the Victoria and Albert Museum and Sadler’s Wells.

Continuing our Olympic and Legacy planning advice across the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, members of our team prepared the Supporting Retail and Leisure Statement in support of the proposed ‘Cultural and Education District’ (CED).

Canterbury Court
Planning Applications

Canterbury Court, Vauxhall, London

Advice on proposals to redevelop the Kennington Park Business Centre in Oval. The scheme aimed to create a more efficient use of space within a dated Edwardian building, providing attractive small units for businesses, a modern urban space for the local community and a vibrant ground floor frontage accommodating new retailers. The preparation and submission of the planning application included a detailed retail supporting statement focusing on how the introduction of ground floor retail would contribute to the wider commercial area and existing town centre uses.

Powerhub Maidstone
Planning Applications

Powerhub, Maidstone

The Powerhub building, approximately 300 metres from Maidstone’s core shopping area, lay largely vacant and in a state of disrepair when members of our team were instructed to submit a planning application for its change of use. Constructed originally as a motor vehicle factory, the hybrid planning application sought permission for Class A1 retail, Class A2 financial services, Class A3 food and drink, Class B1 Employment and Class D2 leisure uses. The scheme included a large foodstore (c.7,430 sq m GIA). Submission included the preparation of the planning application, listed building application, and Supporting Retail Statement.

Projects presented are examples of work undertaken throughout the careers of Urban Shape Ltd employees, either at Urban Shape or in previous employment.