Draft Gloucester City Plan 2016 - 2031

Draft Gloucester City Plan

C: Retail and City / Town Centres

C: Retail and City / Town Centres

Policies in this section:

  • Policy C1: Maintaining the vitality and viability of city, district and local centres
  • Policy C2: Visitor attractions
  • Policy C3: Overnight accommodation
  • Policy C4: Major cultural venue
  • Policy C5: Evening and night-time uses

Key issues:

  • The City Centre is performing well, and has many positive attribute but also has some weaknesses including lack of comparison goods choice; in some places a poor quality environment and a poor perception / image.
  • Increasing competition from other city / town centres and out-of-centre shopping.
  • Lack of significant investment in new retail floorspace in the City Centre since the 1970’s.
  • Significant amount of out-of-centre shopping, largely restricted to the sale of bulky goods but increased pressure for relaxation to allow wider range of goods which could adversely affect the City Centre and other centres if not carefully considered.
  • Poor linkages and a lack of connectivity between some parts of the City Centre.
  • Poor quality public transport arrival point, but this is changing with the development of Phase 1 of the King’s Quarter scheme, with a new bus station, linked with the train station to form a high quality public transport interchange.  It will be important to ensure active frontage in the Primary Shopping Area from the new bus station in later phases.
  • Some large derelict areas that can leave users feeling isolated and unsafe, particularly during the evening and at night.
  • Lack of people living in the City Centre, though recent additions include the former technical college scheme.  Opportunities for increased City Centre living, for example through the redevelopment of vacant upper floors.
  • Lack of a locally defined impact threshold affecting the ability of the authority to require impact assessments beyond the NPPF threshold of 2,500 sq m gross.
  • Strong and improving evening / night-time economy at Gloucester Quays, but poor range offers in and around the PSA meaning there is a lack of vibrancy and it can feel isolated and unsafe in parts. Potential for polarisation of the evening and night-time economy.
  • Deliverability of City Centre sites.
  • Allowing flexibility through planning policy whilst maintaining and enhancing the integrity, vitality and viability of the Primary Shopping Area.
  • Lack of a full range of overnight accommodation choices.  For example, the City does not benefit from a youth hostel and there isn’t a higher end hotel located in the City Centre.  In contrast, the City is well provided for in terms of budget hotel accommodation.
  • Good range of district and local centres serving the needs of local residents.  However, there is evidence that Quedgeley District Centre is overtrading, with pressure for change of use at adjacent sites, for example Space Business Park.
  • Fairly static vacancy rates at around 10% with the Primary Shopping Area, down though from a high of 15% in 2012.  There has been a drop in the number of smaller A1 units as a result of change of use to betting shops, tattoo parlours etc.
  • Whilst the City is well provided for from mid-range chain restaurants, there is a lack of independent and higher end restaurants choices.
  • There is some fear of crime in the City Centre.
  • Excellent small venue in the Guildhall for meetings, the arts and music. However there is a lack of major conferencing facilities or a larger cultural arts venue, in contrast to other locations such as the Centaur in Cheltenham.
  • Lower numbers of overnight visitors compared to other comparable cities.

A background topic paper on retail and the City Centre can be found on the council’s website by visiting www.gloucester.gov.uk/cityplan.

Key evidence:

  • JCS Retail Study (Phase 1) 2011
  • JCS Retail Study 2016
  • City Centre Healthcheck 2016
  • District and Local Centre Survey 2016

Other relevant strategies:

  • Gloucester Regeneration Strategy 2016 – 2021
  • Growing Gloucester’s Visitor Economy 2014
  • Gloucester’s Cultural Vision and Strategy 2016 – 2026
  • Public Realm Strategy 2015 (emerging)
  • Hotel Capacity Study 2009
  • Gloucester Parking Strategy (emerging)
  • Gloucester Economic Development Strategy (emerging)

Relevant National Planning Policy Framework paragraphs:

  • 23-27 and 161

Relevant policies from the JCS:

  • SD.3 Retail and City/Town Centres

JCS strategic objectives met:

  • Strategic Objective 1: Building a strong and competitive economy
  • Strategic Objective 2: Ensuring vitality of town centres

Key City Plan principles met:

  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 10

Retail and city / town centre policies

Policy C1: Maintaining the vitality and viability of City, District and Local Centres

A: The City Council identifies the following hierarchy of designated town centres to which this policy applies.

Key urban centre

District centres

Local centres

Gloucester City Centre (including the Primary Shopping Area)

Quedgeley District Centre

Abbeymead District Centre

Barton Street

Coney Hill Parade

Finlay Road, Robinswood

Glevum Way, Abbeydale

High Street, Tredworth


Matson Avenue

Mead Road

Old Cheltenham Road, Longlevens

Seventh Avenue, Tuffley

Seymour Road

Windsor Drive, Tuffley

The boundaries of the City Centre, Primary Shopping Area and primary and secondary shopping frontages, and policies for these areas and designations, are identified in the Joint Core Strategy Policy SD3 ‘Retail and City / Town Centres’. In the interests of completeness these boundaries and frontages are also reproduced in the ‘Central Area Inset’ of the Proposals Map.

The boundaries of the district and local centres is shown of the Proposals Map.

B: Within these boundaries, proposals for main town centre uses, including retail and leisure development will be supported, provided that they are:

  • i. Appropriate in location and scale, having regard to the hierarchy identified above), and
  • ii. Contribute to a safe, attractive and accessible environment will be supported.

C: All proposals greater than 2,500 sq. m where they affect the City Centre and 250 sq. m where they affect district and / or local centres will be required to submit a full Retail Impact Assessment.

It is important to ensure that Gloucester has a defined hierarchy of different city and town centres based on a realistic understanding of their role and function. For Gloucester the City Centre is the primary designated centre.  This includes the Primary Shopping Area and provides a wide range of shops, services and facilities as well tourist and cultural attractions.  The policy approach to the City Centre, Primary Shopping Area and primary and secondary frontages is set out at Policy SD3 of the JCS.

Underneath this are a number of smaller district and local centres, which provide for a more localised everyday shops, services and facilities for their local communities.

It is important that all designated centres and protected from inappropriate developments that may undermine their vitality and viability. Equally, opportunities to enhance such centres should be supported where they are commensurate with the role and function of that centre.

Retail needs and sites

The JCS identifies that up to 2031 Gloucester City should plan for at least 41,542 sq. m (net) of floorspace for the sale of comparison goods (non-perishable goods such as clothing, household goods and toys) and 3,664 sq. m (net) of floorspace for the sale of food (supermarkets, food stores and convenience stores).

Floorspace (sq. m net)












The process of identifying specific sites to deliver new retail development will be undertaken through a combination of the immediate review of JCS Policy SD3 ‘Retail and City / Town Centres’ following adoption and City Plan, within the context of a comprehensive retail strategy for the JCS and the city. In the meantime, the City Council will continue to support proposals that deliver additional retail floorspace within the adopted Primary Shopping Area and that support regeneration initiatives within it.

Policy C2: Visitor attractions

The City Council will support proposals for new visitor attractions located within the City Centre boundary.

For proposals outside of the City Centre boundary, proposals will be supported where it is demonstrated that the proposal:

  1. Cannot be accommodated in the City Centre; and
  2. Is located in a location accessible by public transport; and
  3. Is located on a main public transport route and where there would not be a significant adverse impact on the highways network and environmental quality.

‘Growing Gloucester’s Visitor Economy’ (2014) shows that tourism continues to play an important role in Gloucester’s economy and in recent years growth has consistently outperformed both national and regional growth rates in the wider economy.Gloucester continues to be a nationally important historic City, with world class cathedral, rich and varied history, regenerated docks, premiership rugby team and a strong and expanding program of annual festivals and events.

Between 2002 and 2010 GVA growth rates of tourism related industries in Gloucester averaged at 7.9% per annum. Furthermore, figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in June 2014 show that in 2013 there was a 38% increase in international visitors to the City. Looking ahead, Visit England have projected that during the next two decades the visitor economy will grow by 5% per annum, which for Gloucester would mean an increase in GVA £110m to £230m.With this in mind, capitalising on tourism opportunities can make an important contribution to the City’s economy.

Policy C3: Overnight accommodation

Proposals for new overnight accommodation (hotels, guess houses, bed and breakfasts, youth hostels) will be supported within the City Centre boundary.

Outside of the City Centre boundary, proposals for overnight accommodation will be permitted where it can be demonstrated there are specific locational requirements or where the accommodation would be well located to an existing or proposed visitor attraction.

Despite the increasing role tourism has played within Gloucester’s economy, there is at present a lack of a full range of accommodation choices in the City Centre. There is not for example a youth hostel, or a full-service hotel. At the same time, tourism in Gloucester (and the wider area) is expected to grow significantly within the plan period and evidence shows the potential for a significant growth in the number of overnight rooms required. The City Council is therefore keen to encourage a range of new overnight accommodation options, particularly within the City Centre.

Policy C4: Major cultural venue

The City Council will support proposals for a major cultural and arts venue in suitable locations within the City Centre boundary. The City Council, working with partners, will work to identify a suitable location and delivery mechanisms.

Gloucester has some very good cultural and arts venues, including for example The Guildhall, which has an ongoing and expanding programme of events. There are also a range of other smaller facilities that offer spaces for small performances and exhibitions, and recently Gloucester Rugby has started hosting two large concerts a year. However, the city does not have a major cultural and arts venue, in particular that can host major events, and there is an aspiration to deliver one in a suitable location within the City Centre.

Policy C5: Evening and night-time uses

The City Council will support proposals that enhance the evening and night time economy within the City Centre, provided that they:

Would not, either on their own or cumulatively, result in a significant adverse impact on neighbouring uses in terms of disturbance, highways, safety or the balance of uses in a particular locality.

The City Council wishes to support a vibrant evening and night-time economy that provides for all members of the community.  There are instances where some uses have the potential to cause disturbance to neighbouring properties or the locality more generally and this policy seeks to ensure that they are adequately considered and addressed as part of planning applications.