Planning restrictions limiting size of retail units at Gunwharf Quays is removed

Planning restrictions limiting the size of retail units at Gunwharf Quays have been removed following a request by the owner of the shopping centre.
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Planning restrictions limiting the size of retail units at Gunwharf Quays have been removed following a request by the owner of the shopping centre. Real estate giant Landsec said the condition attached to the 1998 planning permission for the centre was hampering efforts to meet modern demands from businesses. Portsmouth City Council planners have now approved the removal of the condition.

Under the original condition, only one unit – or any antiques or craft markets – over 500sqm could be created and these were limited to a maximum of 1,100sqm.

Gunwharf QuaysGunwharf Quays
Gunwharf Quays
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However, since then, the city council has approved one-off exceptions, including increasing the upper limit to 1,200sqm and allowing a further five units to be up to 1,000 sqm in size.

In October, Landsec submitted its application for its complete removal saying it needed to be able to offer flexibility to both its existing occupiers and any potential incoming businesses.

“This requirement arises from the changes in the retail sector since planning permission was originally granted,” a letter submitted with its application said. “Importantly, it will allow Gunwharf Quays to respond quickly to modern operator requirements and continue to perform its established role as an important, regional shopping destination.”

The application did not include any proposals to increase the total retail floorspace at Gunwharf, instead only allowing the existing units to be reconfigured.

The company contracted Savills to manage the application.

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Under the council’s Portsmouth Plan document, any city centre commercial development over 280sqm, including Gunwharf Quays, requires developers to demonstrate their scheme has no detrimental impact on the Commercial Road shopping area (CRSA). This policy was introduced to protect the “vitality and viability” of the high street.

Savills said the proposal would neither increase the overall amount of retail space nor turnover and so would not divert business away from the city centre.

It said: “In addition to this, there is a clear qualitative differentiation between the primary retail function of Gunwharf Quays and the CRSA,” adding that only 13 of the 191 retail units in the area were larger than 1,000sqm, limiting competition.

“The established format of premises within the CRSA is a greater number of smaller units selling a wide range of goods and retail services. In addition to the physical distinction, the format of retail space is different with traditional retailing within the CRSA and outlet shopping characterising Gunwharf Quays.”