Shopping in York

In the absence of a Local Development Framework (LDF), individual planning applications in York are judged on their merits. Precedent is important and some weight can been given to emerging planning policies. These include the documents which may support the LDF when it has passed through the Public Inquiry stage next year.
Recently the government has given local authorities more powers to make planning decisions based on local factors.
It is perhaps not surprising then that there is a raft of apparently conflicting advice from consultants on what the effects additional retail sales areas in different parts of the City might have on the “market” as a whole.
Clifton Moor (circa 44,000 sq m net) is one of the largest retail parks in the country. It has the strongest market shares in the more bulky goods categories including ‘furniture, floor coverings and household textiles’, ‘DIY/Decorating’, ‘domestic appliances’ and ‘electrical entertainment’
Monks Cross Shopping Park (circa 27,250 sq m net) dominates in the clothing and footwear category
The Tesco Extra food store in Askham Bar in the largest food store in the City of York with a turnover of around £53.1m.
Professionals divide shopping into 3 categories:
• Convenience – Mainly food and day to day disposables
• Services – cafés and takeaways, banks, dry cleaners, post offices hairdressers etc
• Comparison – electrical, homeware, furniture, gardening, clothes,etc
It is the last category that is currently generating the most debate about development in York. Controversy is focused on the plans for the John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Community Stadium development at Monks Cross.
The last objective study by Grimleys consultants – was published in 2008 to inform the LDF build process. In 2008, although talks were underway on where a new Community Stadium might be located, neither a site nor a means of funding it had been found. Thus the Grimley study was an objective one and was not tied to a particularly development philosophy.
The report concluded that “in the future growth rates of 1.5-2.5% pa seem likely to be achieved for comparison goods shopping”. They also said that the York City centre is “buoyant” reflecting in relatively high rent prices and a long list of national retailers seeking space in the area”.
York’s main competitors for shoppers are Leeds and Harrogate.
Grimleys estimated by 2012, there would be capacity (spending power) to support an additional 9,245 sq m net of comparison goods floor space, increasing to 31,361 sq m net by 2017, 56,254 sq m net by 2022 and 95,742 sq m net by 2029.
The only significant retail area currently with planning permission is Hungate with a floor space of 4,155 sq m
This compares with the ill fated application by Land Securities early in the last decade for 21,367 sq m at the Coppergate/Piccadilly site (which was later sold to Centros when the planning permission was refused by a government inspector).
The planning application for this key City Centre site had been vigorously opposed by “dark green” campaigners (who opposed any development on the Castle car park which they felt should be grassed over), those who thought the development would spoil the streetscape near Clifford’s Tower and even by some City centre traders who feared that the “focus” of shopping would move (away from the streets where their shops were located).
At Monks Cross, Marks and Spencer want to provide 11,148 sq m of new shopping space (80% comparison). The Coppergate M & S outlet – together with the existing 2 small outlets that they have at Monks Cross – would close. There would be major investment in their highly successful Parliament Street store.
John Lewis, who currently don’t have a store in York, are seeking 9290 sq m. of retails floorspace at Monks Cross
The Planners first choice for development is always city centre sites. There are none of sufficient size to satisfy the needs of M & S and John Lewis, and which are “ready to go”.
Coppergate is still in the planning stage (with a fragile planning history), Hungate is too small and York Central (the land behind the station) is too expensive to develop at present (there are enormous costs in moving existing users, dealing with contamination and providing access infrastructure).
So there is demand for more retail space in the City, the sequential test of location has been met and – critically- the investment funding has been secured.
Either the City wants to seize investment opportunities like this or it will lurch from one period of indecision to the next. The loser will be the shopper and – in the end – the resident and all traders.

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