DD1446 Retail needs study

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
10 February 2016
Decision by: 
Fiona Fletcher-Smith, Executive Director of Development, Enterprise and Environment

Executive summary

Agreement to procure and commission a consultancy study to assess the scale and nature of consumer expenditure in London for comparison goods, convenience goods, and other expenditure including leisure to the year 2041. It will focus on strategic requirements for comparison goods retail floor space need in London, fulfilling a requirement of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework. The study will inform the forthcoming review of the London Plan and Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks. It will complement research into other town centre uses such as offices, hotel demand and town centre health checks.



The Executive Director approves expenditure of up to a total of £80,000 to procure specialist technical services by competitive tender to undertake the London Consumer Expenditure and Comparison Goods Retail Floorspace Need Study.


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    The importance of informing the preparation of development plans with robust assessments of need for retail and leisure uses and the capacity of town centres to accommodate development is set out in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  The framework sets out policy guidance to ensure the viability and vitality of town centres and recognises that planning policies should be positive, promote competitive town centre environments and manage the growth of centres to ensure that the need for retail and other town centre floor space is met in full (NPPF paragraph 23).

1.2    The 2015 London Plan underlines the Mayor’s support for a partnership approach to assessing need and bringing forward capacity for retail, commercial, culture and leisure development in town centres (Policies 2.15, 4.7-4.8). Based upon research undertaken for the GLA in 2013, the London Plan indicates that London’s long term household expenditure is projected to rise from £124 billion in 2011 to over £234 billion by 2036. Taking into account growth in commuter and tourist spending, retailers making more efficient use of space and special forms of trading such as the internet, it is estimated that London has an additional baseline need of 0.9-2.2 million sq m of comparison good retail by 2036 or 0.4-1.6 million sqm after accounting for schemes in the pipeline.

1.3    The London Consumer Expenditure and Comparison Goods Retail Floor space Need Study will update and roll forward these estimates to 2041 to inform the forthcoming review of the London Plan and Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks. The study will be a broad, strategic assessment of the floor space need associated with town centres in London, providing the context and coordination framework for more local and precise retail and leisure needs studies to be undertaken in line with the NPPF and London Plan for individual boroughs and development proposals.

1.4    This is a new study, unrelated to any other current approvals, seeking a budget up to £80,000. The 2013 equivalent study cost £69,000 (approved under MD1057). The figure of £80,000 allows for some additional work to be undertaken, that was not in the contract specification last time and a small element of inflation.  

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1     It is envisaged the consultants will produce a comprehensive study examining trends and providing projections for London’s consumer expenditure and comparison goods retail floorspace needs. The outcome will be a robust study that can be used to formulate retail policies in the forthcoming review of the London Plan and ensure that the Mayor’s approach is defensible at an examination in public. 


Equality comments

3.1     Town centres are accessible to all, but are especially important to those more dependent on public transport, such as older people, ethnic minorities and disabled people. Ensuring that the network of town centres is responsive to people’s changing needs should help the town centres continue to be a focus for people’s retailing needs and ensure they continue to cater for society’s more disadvantaged members.


Other considerations

a)     key risks and issues 
4.1     The contract will be managed in line with standard GLA risk management procedures. If the work is not commissioned it is possible that the forthcoming review of the London Plan will fail to comply with the requirements of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework. In addition, boroughs may not allocate sufficient sites for retail needs leading to a decline in town centres and growth in unsustainable out of centre developments.

b)     links to Mayoral strategies and priorities 
4.2     This study is to provide evidence and direction for a specific land use, which will inform the implementation and review of the London Plan. It will support London boroughs in the preparation of Local Plans and partnership working by the GLA, boroughs and others in developing Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks.

c)     impact assessments and consultations
4.3      Impact assessments are carried out as part of the preparation of reviews and alterations to the London Plan. A separate impact assessment is not required for this research study. Consultation on the project specification has taken place within the GLA and with Transport for London (TfL).

Financial comments

5.1    The cost of this work will be up to £80,000 and will be met from the 2015-16 London Plan Programme Budget. Half the payment for this study will be made in 2015-16 therefore it is likely that there will be a need to request a carry forward £40,000 of the London Plan budget. However it should be noted that the carry forward request will be subject to year-end process and not guaranteed to be carried into 2016-17. If the carry forward is not approved, the Planning team will need to contain the cost from within 2016-17 Planning budget.


Planned delivery approach and next steps



Procurement of contract

March 2016



Delivery Start Date

March 2016

Final evaluation

January 2017

Delivery End Date [for project proposals]

January 2017

Project Closure:

January 2017


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