Main Changes to Local Plan 2030

Policy EMP10 - Local and Village Centres (MC61)

Page 207 - 208 Policy EMP10 Paras 5.206 – 5.207

Admin, Response to rep 1479

Amendments to Local and Village Centres section and Policy EMP10:

5.204 Local centres in the towns and villages play an important role in providing for local shopping needs, especially for convenience goods, and other local services. They help reduce the need to travel. They also provide an essential service for those with restricted mobility and are often a focal point for the community.

5.205 Within the built-up area of Ashford, there are a number of local centres which provide such services to local residents. Many of the villages in the Borough have shops which serve the village community and in the case of the larger villages, such as Wye and Charing, serve the surrounding smaller villages and hamlets as well.

5.206 The Council would like to see as broad a range of local shops and services as possible, including some non-A1 uses such as banks (A2), cafes (A3), take-away restaurants (A5) and public houses (A4). The Council aims to resist the loss of shops and services and to preserve the character of the local centres, especially the retention of key units so that they remain compact centres, although the effects of increased permitted development rights on changes of use should be acknowledged. Where planning permission is required for the change of use or loss of an existing service or facility, this will only be granted where there is alternative provision within reasonable walking distance or the unit is no longer viable for that purpose or an alternative local service. Reasonable walking distance is defined not only by distance, which is considered to be within the region of 800m, but also factors such as the condition of the footpaths and local gradients. In order to demonstrate that the facility is not viable it must be demonstrated that it has remained vacant for a substantial period of time, despite genuine and sustained attempts to occupy it on reasonable terms. What constitutes a 'substantial period of time' and 'reasonable terms' will depend on prevailing market conditions, but as a guide less than six months is likely to be inappropriate and the terms on offer should compare with other similar premises and locations being let or sold for that purpose. The extent of marketing carried out will be an important factor.

Insert the following new paragraph:

The Localism Act 2011 introduced the community right to bid, which gives local groups a right to nominate a building or other land for listing by the local authority as an asset of community value. This allows local community groups a fairer chance to make a bid to buy the asset on the open market. The Council’s current list of assets of community value contains mainly public houses and shops located in the villages of the Borough.

5.207 Areas of new residential development in Ashford have in the past been required to make provision of local shops to meet the needs of the new community. Where new local centres are required to support new development in this plan, this is will be set out in the site policy.

5.208 The following policy seeks to maintain and enhance the provision of local centres in the built-up areas of the Borough.

Amendment to policy EMP10 – Local and Village centres:

Policy EMP10 - Local and Village Centres

In local centres and villages, planning permission will be granted for additional shopping and service provision, where proposals meet a local need, and are of a scale appropriate to the particular centre.

Proposals that result in the loss of shops and services will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:

    1. there is alternative provision for a similar use within reasonable walking distance (300 metres); or,
    2. the unit is no longer viable for that purpose, or an alternative local service, and that it has remained unlet vacant for a substantial period of time, despite genuine and sustained attempts to let it on reasonable terms12

Footnote 12 What constitutes a 'substantial period of time' and 'reasonable terms' will depend on prevailing market conditions, but as a guidance less than six months is likely to be inappropriate and the terms on offer should compare with other similar premises and locations being let or sold for retail use. The extent of marketing carried out will be an important factor.