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Decline in retail floorspace hits town centres harder than out of town

Research undertaken by leading retail property trade body - the British Council of Shopping Centres, in partnership with Geofutures, shows that retail space in UK town centres is declining almost 20% faster than retail space outside town centres. A pilot undertaken in the South West has shown that town centre retail space contracted by 12% between 2005 and 2010. Over the same period the quantum of retail space outside town centres increased by almost 6%.

The statistics are the most comprehensive assessment to date of where retail space reduction in the UK is being most keenly felt. Indeed BCSC and Geofutures are applying the newly defined town centre boundaries to assess whether this trend in retail development is happening across the UK, and what the impact is on sustaining vibrant town centres.

"Two major new city centre retail schemes have opened in the South West over recent years - Cabot Circus in Bristol and Southgate in Bath, yet town and city centre retail space is still shown to be decreasing at an exceptional rate," says Michael Green, Chief Executive, British Council of Shopping Centres. "It is clear, therefore, that smaller town centres are suffering most.

"What is most disconcerting, however, is that currently there is no universal assessment being made of how the Government's national Town Centres First planning policy is being applied locally. For this reason we are now progressing a national roll out of this research to highlight to Government whether critical national policy to support Britain's town centres is being heeded at local authority level."

The national research findings are expected within the next few months.

Established in 1983, BCSC represents all sectors within the retail property industry and has over 2,500 members including developers, retailers, agents, consultants, architects and public sector managers.

BCSC's Business Plan 2012 - 2015 identifies five key priorities:

* To provide business to business networking opportunities for the commercial benefit of members
* To influence government policy to meet the needs of members' commercial objectives
* To create growth from new markets, products and services
* To undertake a comprehensive research programme
* To invest in educational programmes for professional development

Geofutures is an independent spatial data research specialist based in Bath. It provides GIS-based consultancy to Government, corporate and non-profit clients enabling them to map data and identify patterns, trends and relationships. The company also provides online data sharing tools to allow multiple users to build evidence and insight together.

Originally a UCL spin-out, Geofutures designed the methodology behind the Dept for Communities and Local Govt's original Town Centres statistical series, indexing multiple indicators of town centre activity to create nationally comparable town centre boundaries and related statistics.

Using these boundaries, Geofutures worked with BCSC in 2007-8 to analyse in-town versus out-of-town retail developments both completed and in the planning pipeline, and having completed a successful pilot last year, the organisations are now working together to update the earlier government-funded urban statistics.

T: 020 7222 1122
W: www.bcsc.org.uk

T: 01225 320050
W: www.geofutures.com

8th March 2013

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