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Guildford Borough Council

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications - Part 1: Policies

4.4 Economy Policies

Policy E1: Meeting employment and retail needs


Employment needs

4.4.1 The NPPF states that one of the roles of the planning system is to contribute to building a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth, innovation and improved productivity. It goes on to say local planning authorities should help create the conditions in which businesses can invest, expand and adapt.

4.4.2 Our Corporate Plan (2018-2023) states that our borough's economy continues to perform well, being one of the strongest and most vibrant outside London, but there are signs that competitiveness could be lost to other locations. The importance of a healthy economy is a fundamental factor in shaping our society by improving the quality of life and prosperity of residents. Our priority is to encourage economic growth through knowledge, innovation and creativity. This means helping businesses to improve their productivity without damaging our quality of life or environment. A growing cluster of high-tech industries, at the cutting-edge of innovation, continues to create new employment opportunities. Key business clusters in the borough are digital, health and education.

4.4.3 Existing innovation networks such as the high technology clusters that form a key part of our economy will be supported along with the wide range of other businesses in our borough. The Corporate Plan supports the Council in playing an active role in Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), supporting its wider objectives to ensure that our economy remains innovative, well-balanced and socially, environmentally and commercially sustainable.

4.4.3a Local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) are voluntary partnerships between local authorities and businesses set up in 2011 to help determine local economic priorities and lead economic growth and job creation within the local area. They carry out some of the functions previously carried out by the regional development agencies which were abolished in 2012. The Enterprise M3 LEP is a public/private partnership set up to support and sustain economic growth at a local level by working with businesses, key delivery partners and central government. They signpost opportunities for business and other partners including funding and bring together people, business, public and not-for- profit sectors together to share insights and data.

4.4.4 The borough's economy is strong in areas that the government has announced are high priority growth areas for the UK including health and life sciences, space, digital and creative industries, and professional services. Innovative industries have emerged and clustered, some based at the Surrey Research Park and the University of Surrey and others in the town centre, such as electronic gaming, stem cell research and satellite technology. The borough has benefited from strong cluster growth in high tech innovative businesses including healthcare and bioscience and satellite technology. There are some emerging clusters built around 5G technologies and veterinary science (including the significant recent investment and presence of the Pirbright Institute, world leaders in animal virology) which have considerable potential for inward investment and business start-ups.

4.4.5 A significant amount of existing employment floor space in the borough is located on the Strategic Employment Sites identified in the Employment Land Needs Assessment (ELNA) (2017). Elsewhere in the borough a significant contribution is made by employment on much smaller sites. These are located on a mixture of industrial estates, in villages and in our rural areas. The Council is keen to support and, where possible, protect employment on these sites.

Retail needs

4.4.5a Guildford town centre is a highly successful destination for shopping, which ranked 11 in the top 500 British retail centres for vitality in 2014 and second among the top five centres in the South East. It scored 29 in the Javelin VenueScore centre 2016 rankings, an improvement from 32 in 2014. The centre has also proven to be one of the most economically resilient in the country in times of economic downturn[21], primarily due to its largely affluent population and attractive environment.

4.4.5b Nevertheless, centres are constantly changing. As nearby similar sized centres such as Kingston upon Thames and Woking improve, so must Guildford town centre. As well as providing for shopping and employment needs, we must also improve the overall experience for visitors. Improvements may include a focus on leisure and other town centre uses that encourage people to visit, reducing the dominance of traffic congestion and surface car parks, and enhancements to the riverside, buildings and public spaces between them.

4.4.5c We will work with our partners to deliver the Local Plan, and to progress further opportunities highlighted in the Guildford Town Centre Regeneration Strategy. Partners include Experience Guildford (Guildford's Business Improvement District), major land- owners including the North Street Regeneration site, Surrey Country Council as local highway authority, the Environment Agency, and the National Trust as owner of the River Wey.

4.4.5d The preference is to locate new retail proposals on town centre sites, to make most effective use of these sites and ensure the town centre's continued economic performance and vitality in line with the NPPF. Policies E7-E9 deal with proposals for new retail and leisure developments and with proposals involving a loss of existing retail (A1) and other A-class uses from primary and secondary shopping frontages and district and local centres. As the most accessible location in the borough, Guildford town centre is the most suitable location for larger, mixed-use developments including retail and housing. Large-scale retail schemes will be located, wherever possible, within the Primary Shopping Area (PSA). The boundary of Guildford town centre, its PSA and ground floor primary and secondary shopping frontages are illustrated on the Policies Map (Appendix F). The shopping frontages are also listed in Appendix B.

4.4.5e The borough-wide targets for retail and employment needs are set out in Policy E1 below:

POLICY E1: Meeting employment and retail needs

(1) In order to deliver 4,100 additional B class jobs[22] to 2034, land has been allocated for a net gain of between 36,100 and 43,700 sq m of floorspace for office and research & development (B1a and B1b) and between 3.7 and 4.1 ha land for industrial (B1c, B2 and B8) uses. This will provide a range and choice of employment premises over the plan period and accommodate the predicted future growth in jobs required for the borough's economy to develop and strengthen.


Lower range

Upper range

Office and Research & Development floorspace (B1a and B1b)

36,100 sq m

43,700 sq m

Industrial land (B1c, B2 and B8)

3.7 ha

4.1 ha

Source: Guildford Employment Land Needs Assessment (2017)

(1a) To meet the borough-wide need for retail and leisure uses, land has been allocated for an approximate net gain of floorspace as indicated in the table below:


Net capacity to 2030 (sq m)

Assumed gross capacity (sq m)

Comparison goods retail (A1) uses



Convenience goods retail (A1) uses[23]

1,869 - 3,523

2,670 - 5,033

Food and beverage (A3/A4/A5) uses

4,230 - 5,641

6,043 - 8,058

Source: Guildford Retail and Leisure Study Addendum (2017)

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Reasoned justification

4.4.8 The ELNA assessed the future requirements for B-use class employment land over the plan period. Employment land requirements were derived from a mean average of three employment forecasts. The ELNA identifies a residual requirement for employment land, as set out above. The Monitoring Report, which is produced annually, will keep track of the delivery against this target. A three-yearly review of the ELNA will enable any unforeseen changes in the local economy to be monitored so that the use of policies can be reviewed where necessary to reflect changing circumstances.

4.4.9 Paragraph moved to 4.4.25a

4.4.10 As set out above, the new Local Plan seeks to protect existing major employment sites and protect its locally strategic employment sites to comply with the NPPF. Loss of these sites to alternative uses runs the risk of constraining employment growth and limiting economic diversification.

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4.4.11a Paragraph moved to 4.4.32a

4.4.11b The Guildford Retail and Leisure Study Addendum (2017) provides the latest figures for the need (capacity) for retail and leisure floorspace for the borough as a whole, and for Guildford town centre, up to and beyond 2034, the end date of the Local Plan. The study used 2014-based ONS Sub National Population Projections and data on expenditure and retail sales growth based on national data and a household survey. The market shares that informed the previous 2014 Retail and Leisure Study Update were adjusted in the 2017 study to take account of new store openings and committed new retail schemes. The figures also take into account changes in special forms of trading (SFT), such as increased proportion of expenditure on internet sales.

4.4.11c The anticipated proportion of retail sales via the internet is increasing nationally, and mobile phone retailing is growing. It is becoming increasingly clear that the successful large 'bricks and mortar' retailers are increasingly becoming multi-channel retailers (selling both in store and online), which is both changing, and being influenced by, people's shopping habits. To ensure the continued success of the town centre's economy in future, it will be necessary to monitor the impact of these trends and to take account of market signals and up-to-date local evidence on retail needs.

4.4.11d The retail and leisure study acknowledges the volatility of retail markets and the difficulty of long-term capacity forecasting due to the impact of economic, demographic and market trends on longer-term assumptions and forecasts. The Plan therefore seeks to meet the borough's retail needs to 2030, rather than to the end of the Local Plan period, though still takes account of forecast growth over the longer term. For the same reason, the Plan's North Street allocation wording has been made flexible to allow for variation in the retail floorspace requirement to take account of changes to retail need highlighted in future updates of the study.

4.411e The headline figures for comparison retail need (gross floorspace), assuming Guildford town centre retains a constant market share, are 1,614 sq m to 2020; 15,664 sq m to 2025; 40,289 sq m to 2030 and 46,664 sq m to 2034. These figures are cumulative. The vast majority of the comparison floorspace will be provided in one development, on the site fronting North Street (site allocation A6). This site presents a rare opportunity to provide a significant amount of new retail, food and drink, and leisure floorspace all on one centrally-located and well-linked site, alongside new flats and improvements to the environment and appearance of this area.

Delivery strategy

4.4.12 The Council will work with our partners including the Enterprise M3 LEP and local business organisations to support sustainable economic growth in the borough.

Key Evidence

  • Employment Land Needs Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 2017)
  • Guildford Borough Economic Strategy 2013 - 2031 (Guildford Borough Council, 2013)
  • The Enterprise M3 Strategic Economic Plan - 2014-2020 (Enterprise M3, 2014)
  • The Enterprise M3 Delivery Plan - 2014-2020 (Enterprise M3, 2014)
  • Retail and Leisure Study Update 2014 (Guildford Borough Council, 2015) and Addendum 2017
  • The Guildford Town Centre Regeneration Strategy (Guildford Borough Council, 2017)
  • Guildford Borough Corporate Plan 2018 - 2023 (Guildford Borough Council, 2018)


Monitoring Indicators



Data source

Net change in permitted and completed B1 (a, b, c), B2 and B8 floorspace (sq m) in the borough

Net increase of 36,100 - 43,700 sq m B1a and B1b use class floorspace to 2034 Net increase of 3.7-4.1ha Industrial land (B1c, B2 and B8) to 2034

Planning applications and appeals and building completions data

Amount of employment floor space (sq m) lost to non-B class uses


Planning applications and appeals and building completions data

Number of employee jobs (total and by industry) in the borough

4,100 additional B class jobs to 2034

Published data e.g. ONS Business Register Employment Survey


Amount of retail floorspace (A1) permitted and completed within the town centre

Approximately 41,000 sq m (gross), or a figure consistent with subsequent updates to the Guildford Retail and Leisure studies

Planning applications and appeals and building control data

Amount of food and beverage floorspace (A3, A4) permitted and completed within the town centre

6,000 sq m (gross), or a figure consistent with subsequent updates to the Guildford Retail and Leisure studies

Planning applications and appeals and building control data




[21] Second most credit crunch resistant retail centre in the UK (Source: CACI Retail Footprint Study 2010/11)

[22] See glossary for definition of B class jobs

[23] Note that convenience retail need arising from development on the mixed-use strategic sites allocated in the Plan (A25, A26 and A35) is additional to the identified overall borough-wide need and is shown separately in the Retail and Leisure Study Update 2014 (see Para. 7.71, Table 7.5).