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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

Policy E8: District Centres


4.4.87a District Centres sit in the middle of the retail hierarchy. Whilst of a lesser significance compared to Guildford town centre, they serve a larger catchment than the local centres due to the variety and quantity of retail units present within them.

POLICY E8: District Centres

(1) The role of District Centres as the focus for communities in the surrounding areas in providing for everyday shopping and service needs as well as for some more specialist needs will be supported. Proposals for residential use of upper floors add to the liveliness of centres, and will be considered positively.

(2) The following areas, as shown on the Policies Map, are designated as District Centres. For each, the boundary of the Primary Shopping Area is the same as the boundary of that Centre:

(a) Wharf Road, Ash

(b) Station Parade, East Horsley

(c) Ripley.

Proposals for new retail and main town centre uses

(3) In order to strengthen the liveliness and economic resilience of the borough's District Centres, retail and other main town centre use development located within the centre and consistent with the scale and function of that centre will be supported. Where no suitable sites are available within the centre, sites on the edge of designated centres will be considered. We will not apply this sequential approach to proposals for town centre uses of less than 100 sq m (gross) in rural areas.

(4) Retail and leisure proposals over 500 sq m (gross) located outside of a district centre, local centre, or Guildford Town Centre, and where the site is not allocated in the local plan must be supported by a retail impact assessment.

(5) Proposals for new hot food takeaways (Use Class A5) within 500m of schools will not be accepted because of the potential negative impact on the health of school children.

Proposals for loss of A1 retail and other Class A uses

(6) Within the District Centres shown on the Policies Map, proposals for change of use of an A1 retail use at ground floor to another A Class use will be permitted where all of the following criteria are met:

(a) the proposal results in no more than two non-A1 retail uses adjacent to each other

(b) the proposal results in no more than one-third of defined ground floor frontage units in permitted non-A1 retail uses

(c) the proposal will not result in loss of amenity in terms of noise, disturbance, smell, litter or traffic generation and

(d) the proposal will not prejudice the character and appearance of the district centre and its immediate environment.

(7) Exceptionally, a proposed change of use of an A1 retail unit at ground floor level to a non-A class use will be permitted, subject to the above criteria, where the proposed use is a suitable ground floor main town centre use and requires a shopfront.

(8) Proposals for change of use from non-retail Class A uses (A2, A3, A4, and A5) at ground floor level to a suitable ground floor main town centre use will be permitted subject to meeting both of criteria (6)(c) and (d) above.

(9) Residential (Class C) uses and offices within the B1 Use Class are not considered to be suitable main town centre uses for the ground floor level of a District Centre



4.4.87b Main town centre uses are defined as retail development (including warehouse clubs and factory outlet centres); leisure, entertainment facilities the more intensive sport and recreation uses (including cinemas, restaurants, drive-through restaurants, bars and pubs, night-clubs, casinos, health and fitness centres, indoor bowling centres, and bingo halls); offices; and arts, culture and tourism development (including theatres, museums, galleries and concert halls, hotels and conference facilities).

4.4.87c Due to the size and distribution of uses within district centres, it is not suitable to define primary and secondary shopping frontages. For each of our District Centres, the Primary Shopping Area (the area where retail development is concentrated) is the boundary of that centre. These are shown on the Policies Map.

4.4.87d In Guildford borough small-scale developments means those of less than 100 sq m (gross).

4.4.87e District Centres comprise at least 30 non-residential units, including a supermarket and local services such as a bank, and public and community facilities such as a meeting hall, etc.

Reasoned justification

4.4.88 Town centre developments of suitable scale should be located in district centres as the most sustainable locations to serve local communities. This helps people to make a single trip to that centre for several purposes. It also provides increased competition between retailers and services and customer choice.

4.4.89 The NPPF sets out two tests that must be applied when considering developments of certain main town centre uses that are not in a centre and that are not allocated in this Local Plan. These are the sequential test and the retail impact test. In considering proposed developments of any main town centre use on sites outside of designated centres on sites that are not allocated for such uses, the sequential test must be applied. Retail and leisure proposals over 500 sq m on unallocated land outside of designated centres must be accompanied by an impact assessment. This will help to preserve the liveliness of our centres, and to protect them from significant adverse impacts from new retail and leisure developments in less suitable locations.

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4.4.91 Most ground floor uses in District Centres are within the A Use Class, that is, they are shopping area uses. Other uses typically found in shopping / service centres are outside of the A Use Class, and include health and fitness centres, arts and culture, nail bars, and hotels.

4.4.91a One of the district centres (Wharf Road, Ash) has been identified as having land which falls within 400m of the SPA.  Development on this site which falls within the 400m exclusion zone (as defined in Policy P5) will require a project-level HRA.

Key Evidence

  • Guildford Borough Council land use surveys


Monitoring Indicators



Data source

Number of vacant units in designated frontage

Not to increase

Annual centres surveys

Number of planning applications for main town centre uses over 100 sq m gross that are approved outside of district centres


Planning applications and appeals