NPPF and retail change of use

The retail industry has been undergoing structural change over recent years as it comes to terms with difficult economic conditions and changing shopping habits with a significant rise in online shopping. The impact has been a significant increase in the number of vacant town centre retail units, which stands at between 10 and 15%.

These vacant units could provide new opportunities for other town centre uses. Local planning policies have traditionally resisted the change of use of retail units to other uses, however the publication of the NPPF has a placed a requirement on local councils to provide for the needs of leisure, commercial and tourism uses within town centres. This provides more opportunities for the change of use of retail units to public houses, restaurants and cafes, and other leisure uses i.e. uses which have until recently been excluded from the core shopping areas.  There will even, in some cases, be opportunities for the change of use of retail units to residential uses.

Plainview Planning has excellent success in the securing the change of use of existing retail units in town centres. Our approach has been to prepare professional evidence to demonstrate that the existing use is redundant and that there is a high level of demand for the proposed use.

If you own a vacant retail unit and are looking at opportunities to maximise its value or are thinking of purchasing one and require a change of use, then please get in contact with one of our planners, either by email to, or call one of our regional offices.