§ Mr. Evennett
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether his Department intends to issue any planning guidelines for out of town shopping centre developments; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
Our existing policy on planning and large new retail developments was set out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Jenkin) in an answer he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) on 5 July 1985, in which he said inter alia:—Since commercial competition as such is not a land-use planning consideration, the possible effects of a proposed major retail development on existing retailers is not in this sense a relevant factor in deciding planning applications and appeals. It will be necessary, however, to take account in exceptional circumstances of the cumulative effects of other recent and proposed large scale retail developments in the locality, and to consider whether they are on such a scale and of a kind that they could seriously affect the vitality and viability of a nearby town centre as a whole—for example, whether they seem likely to result in a significant increase in vacant properties, or a marked reduction in the range of 115W services the town centre provides, such as could lead to its general physical deterioration and to the detriment of its future place in the economic and social life of the community. Town centres need to maintain their diversity and activity if they are to retain their vitality, but the range and variety of shops and services will change, as they have always done, in response to changing conditions."—[Official Report, 5 July 1985; c. 277.]
We also propose to make a direction requiring local planning authorities to consult the Department before granting permission for retail developments of 250,000 sq ft or more, to enable my right hon. Friend to consider whether the application should be referred to him for decision under section 35 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971.