Section 7 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2018 (NPPF) recognises the importance of protecting and enhancing the vitality of our town centres. The NPPF states that “Planning policies and decisions should support the role that town centres play at the heart of local communities, by taking a positive approach to their growth, management and adaptation”. Town and local centres provide essential goods and services to local communities including provision of retail, employment opportunities and a setting for community interaction. Our centres reflect the heritage, values and demographics of past and present communities and are constantly evolving due to various factors. These include the state of the economy, consumer activities and emerging pressures, e.g. increased shopping using e-commerce.
The Planning Policy section has recently undertaken a series of health checks of the Borough’s town and local centres which provide a snapshot of their vitality and viability. The network and hierarchy of centres in Erewash is presented below and is reflected by Policy 6 of the Erewash Core Strategy. Development at the Stanton Regeneration Site has yet to commence and therefore has not been considered in this study.
Additionally, Planning Policy has identified settlements which are not presently defined in the Borough’s network and hierarchy of town centres. These settlements have an area of retail concentration which provide essential services to local residents. Work suggests merit in identifying undesignated centres at Breaston, Draycott and West Hallam.
The health check document allows the Planning Policy section to evaluate the health of Erewash’s retail centres and understand what mechanisms may be appropriate to enhance and promote vibrant centres. The document is centred upon surveys concerning some of the factors recommended by National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) as being indicators for the health of town centres. Surveys have focused on the following: identification of the use class and vacancy rates of units, commercial rents, accessibility routes and parking, footfall, public realm, facilities, perception of safety and crime rates and unemployment.
The surveys were conducted between December 2017 and February 2018 and will be regularly updated to ensure effective monitoring of Erewash’s retail centres.