Firstplan provided advice and support to Bracknell Forest Council as they prepared to take their new Local Plan through Examination stage. Specifically, we provided the Council with a ‘Retail Advice Note’, identifying changes in the retail sector which had taken place since the publication of the Council’s local plan retail and town centres evidence base, ranging from changes in planning legislation such as the introduction of Use Class E, to changes in shopping patterns and consumer spending as a result of Covid-19. We also provided commentary on the current levels of vacancy in the authority’s main town centres, to ensure evidence on town centre performance was up to date for the Local Plan Examination.
Following on from this, Firstplan were subsequently instructed to undertake a ‘critical friend’ review of the submission Local Plan’s policies on retail and town centres, identifying any potential challenges in respect of ‘soundness’ and consistency with the NPPF. This resulted in a number of changes being put forward to the policies by the Council at Main Modifications stage. Firstplan also provided support to the Council at the Examination hearings on retail and town centre matters.
Separately, we were also instructed to provide retail planning advice to the Council on a proposed residential development with a commercial element in the north of the Borough. This provided advice on retail impact and sequential matters, with a particular focus on identifying the potential extent of the retail catchment for the proposed commercial floorspace.
Firstplan continue to work with a number of other planning authorities across the Country, preparing local plan evidence base studies and providing specialist advice on retail planning matters.