ACS: growth in out of town supermarkets will hurt town centres

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Growth in supermarket expansion out of town will hurt town centres, according to the ACS (Association of Convenience Stores).

New figures from commercial real estate adviser CB Richard Ellis show 80% of planned supermarket building will be out of town. The amount of new supermarket floor space in all stages of the development pipeline has increased to 35.8m sq ft, whereas the amount of new development planned for town centres is 8.6m sq ft.

Figures also show the amount of supermarket floor space under construction out of town is more than three times larger than the amount being built in towns.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Ministers are on track to bring in a new planning policy that recognises the importance of promoting retail investment in town centres. These recent figures on retail developments show how urgent and vital these reforms are.”

Supermarkets now account for 36% of all new retail development, they are the only sector in growth and they alone are the reason retail development continues to grow.

ACS has set out its concerns in a letter to Planning Minister Greg Clark MP. Ministers are working to publish the finalised National Planning Policy Framework by March of 2012.

Lowman said: “Supermarkets are engaged in an aggressive wave of expansion through developing new retail sites. Where they choose to locate new stores is vital to the future of our high streets and neighbourhoods. Current policy is failing to prevent their exodus out of town and only a robust national policy and proactive enforcement will reverse the trend.”