Wrigley, Neil, Lambiri, Dionysia and Cudworth, Katherine
Linked trips and town centre viability
Town & Country Planning, 78, (10), .
- Version of Record
Restricted to Registered users only
There is a widespread consensus in the UK planning community that ‘linked trips’ generated by large foodstores are potentially of critical importance to the viability and vitality of town centres. Indeed, in the case of market towns, some academics have argued that carefully sited supermarkets provide an essential ‘anchor’ for other services and must be seen, therefore, as a vital element in ‘sustainable development’ plans for those towns.2 Despite that – as a National Retail Planning Forum (NRPF) scoping study3 of 2004 makes clear – there are very considerable gaps in the evidence base on these topics, and ‘studies specifically focused on the retail planning aspects of linked trips are few and far between’. Meanwhile, planning applications and planning inquiries frequently merely recycle as ‘factoids’ a small and increasingly dated body of evidence.
After a decade in which the ‘town centres first’ approach to retail planning policy has become progressively more effective, and a new generation of foodstores developed ‘with the grain’ of planning. There is a widespread consensus in the UK planning community that ‘linked trips’ generated by large foodstores are potentially of critical importance to the viability and vitality of town centres. Indeed, in the case of market towns, some academics have argued that carefully sited supermarkets provide an essential ‘anchor’ for other services and must be seen, therefore, as a vital element in ‘sustainable development’ plans for those towns. Despite that – as a National Retail Planning Forum (NRPF) scoping study of 2004 makes clear – there are very Town & Country Planning October 2009 linked trips and town centre viability Neil Wrigley, Dionysia Lambiri and Katherine Cudworth report new evidence on linked trips and town centre viability obtained from a study of the relocation of an ‘out-of-centre’ foodstore to an ‘edge-of-centre’ site above Shepton Mallet – a ‘before/after’ study examined the consequences of store relocation from out-ofcentre to edge-of-centre Town & Country Planning October 2009 policy on either ‘in-centre’ or ‘edge-of-centre’ sites has emerged, a critical issue is how such developments are performing in terms of generating the linked trips essential to the ‘urban buzz’ and economic strength of town centres. As Guy has noted, there has tended to be the assumption that established patterns of linked trips would be replicated by the newer forms of development. However, recent evidence on these issues, and on the related matter of the levels of ‘clawback’ of retail trade associated with such developments, is largely missing and is urgently needed. In particular, as Guy notes, data on linked-trip generation levels achieved by similar types of store on ‘in-centre’ or ‘edge-of-centre’ sites compared with ‘out-of-centre’ locations would be particularly valuable.
In this article we begin the process of providing that essential new evidence to the planning community by reporting the main findings from a detailed study of a relatively uncommon but potentially insightful case in which a previous out-of-centre foodstore was relocated onto an edge-of centre site in a UK market town in October 2007. The study was before/after in design. It consisted of three cross-sectional consumer surveys (averaging 418 respondents in each survey), together with associated ‘trader’ surveys, and retailunit usage mapping to update available Experian-Goad survey data on the centre. The surveys were conducted two months before the relocation of the store (August 2007), six months after the relocation (April 2008), and 12 months after (October 2008). Consumers were questioned face-to-face by the researchers, primarily in the town’s existing high street, and the surveys were stratified to ensure representation across age groups and across the town’s catchment area.
The study forms part of a wider investigation, commissioned by Tesco and conducted by the University of Southampton. In this article we concentrate solely on the research gap identified by Guy – namely, what are the linked-trip generation levels achieved by a very similar store (a direct replacement involving no change of ownership) in its new edge-of-centre location compared with its previous out-of-centre location? The article begins with a brief outline of the case. It then summarises the main findings on linked-trip generation and the initial impact of the new store on the vitality and viability of the town centre. Finally, it addresses the potential significance of the findings in planning policy terms.
Actions (login required)