Planning Gain – A bronze statue of the Presidents Supermodel Wife

In France a property developer is paying 50% of the cost of a piece of public art as planning gain.

Except in this base its a bronze statue of the presidents wife –  Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

It is the Mayor’s idea for her to pose as a “plumassière” – a female worker from one of the area’s former feather factories – to pay tribute to the local Italian community

How Small is too small a Town for a Supermarket? #NPPF

The battle being fought by residents at Hay on Wye (population 1,500 and Wales of course) against a supermarket raises the question about how small a town has to be before a supermarkets impact is unacceptable.

Of course in most places 1,500 would be a village, and there are plenty of villages of this size without any retail – people use supermarkets elsewhere.

But in very remote areas with lack of competition small shops, often selling local produce, thrive.

Part of the key justification for the sequential approach was research that ‘linked trips’ led to people visiting a supermarket then say popping into the nearby marks and sparks etc.

But for small market towns the proportion of convenience against durable is higher and it was argued they had a bet negative impact.

Ludlow was cause celebre for some years.

Eventually DETR, at the urging of John Gummer, comissioned the Report ‘The Impact of Large Foodstores on Market Towns and District Centres’ in 1998

This was pretty devastating

The decline in market share for the town centre convenience sector as a whole ranged from 21% in St Neots to 64% in Fakenham, and 75% in Warminster.

And is now brandished by protestors.

As a result PPG/PPS 6 was amended to include tests that the scale of a store should be appropriate to the function and size of a town centre – noticeably missing from the draft NPPF.

This report is now rather old though and has been challenged by many retailers.

A 2010 report ‘Revisiting the Impact of Large Foodstores on Market Towns and District Centres’ by Prof Neil Wrigly et al. of the University of Southampton – commissioned by Tesco it must be said – found an increase in trade clawback, a decrease in car usage and an increase in footfall on high streets, as well as limited impact on existing trade.  Of course the findings and genesis of the study was hotly contested.

Of course there is no almost no market town of any size without a supermarket, so it might not be the highest priority for research, so the battleground has shifted to the tiny market towns of mid Wales where English Planning ministers have no remit.

The CE of Sainsburys will this week suggest that people dont like trudging around between butchers, bakers and Greengrocers, well for most of middle England maybe but for tourist orientated small market towns that is one reason major reason why people visit and move there.

As this is an issue about how to meet local need perhaps it is one of the few areas of planning where a local referendum should be used to determine the decision?

Sainsbury’s Justin King – Need to Shrink High Streets


Justin King, the retailer’s chief executive, will say that all too often high streets were a ‘poor second’ to out of town shopping centres.

Mr King, who has run Sainsbury’s for the past eight years, will criticise local shops for failing to cater for the local population – for instance by refusing to offer customer loyalty schemes.

He will also call on town centres to be cleaned up and made safer while insisting that supermarkets should not be blamed for the demise of the High Street.

His comments are expected to attract criticism from small shopkeepers who have long blamed out-of-town supermarkets for the high street’s decline.

Mr King will say this week: “Where high streets have declined, I do not believe that the blame can be laid at the door of supermarkets.

“Supermarkets have reflected society and changes in society. Many shoppers do not have the time to potter between the butcher, the baker and grocer.

“Where high streets are in trouble it is usually because they are not providing what the local population wants. Of course, this does not have to be retail.

“What I think we need to do is… be brave enough to shrink the high street and allow empty shops to be converted for other uses such as residential where there is over-capacity.”

He will also praise plans in London to convert some empty shops to classrooms.

The speech, to be delivered at the prestigious annual City Food Lecture at the Guildhall on Wednesday, comes amid growing concern that the traditional high street is in irreversible decline.

Despite the gloom, Mr King will insist the high street can survive the current downturn and competition from supermarkets and the internet. “I do not believe that the high street is doomed,” he will say, “nor that it is all the fault of supermarkets”.

He will point out that many supermarkets are situated in the high street, including 60 per cent of Sainsbury’s supermarkets, which are in town centres or on the edges of towns.

The Government is so concerned about the demise of high streets, it commissioned Mary Portas, the television presenter and retail guru, to undertake a review, which had 28 recommendations.

The report noted that Sainsbury’s, Britain’s third largest supermarket chain, was the seventh largest clothing retailer by volume in the UK.

Last night, James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “Any suggestion that high streets are either not wanted by customers, or are not a key part of the future of our retail sector is completely out of touch with our future consumer and community needs.”