Where were all the retailers?

23rd May 2019
By Andrew Jackson

Last week Andrew Jackson, Head of Development Economics, attended the retail and town centres session of the examination into the draft London Plan.

Previous examination sessions were a retailer and developer circus with consultants and barristers filling the room. This time it was a half-day session with many empty seats at the ‘round table’.

Whilst technical debate about centre hierarchies, night-time economy growth and potential inconsistencies between the draft plan and NPPF on sequential test were interesting; what was apparent was the lack of participation by retailers and retail developers. When you consider that the Draft London Plan is looking to encourage redevelopment of retail parks and large out of centre food stores for mixed use primarily residential led-development on the proviso that there is no net gain in retail floorspace non-participation seemed odd.

However when you consider the context of the retail property market it is not that surprising. Physical retail floor space is an expensive necessity for most and with online shopping the new norm for consumers, a growing proportion of retail floor space is now viewed as a luxury by many operators. Add to that administrations and discounter competition in the grocery sector and redevelopment of retail space does become a significant opportunity.

In London, Boyer has already been involved with redevelopment and re-provision of Tesco at Kennington/Oval by Berkeley Group and more of the same is in the pipeline.

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