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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 E9: Local Centres and isolated retail units


4.4.92 Over the plan period, three new Local Centres are planned to be built at each of the strategic sites of Gosden Hill, the former Wisley airfield and Blackwell Farm. The precise location of each centre will be determined by planning application. Once built, these new local centres will be treated as local centres within the context of this Plan, and their exact location and boundaries subsequently designated in the next Local Plan review.

POLICY E9: Local Centres and isolated retail units

(1) The role of Local Centres will be supported as the focus for local communities in providing for their everyday shopping and service needs. 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 Local Centres. For each, the boundary of the Primary Shopping Area is the same as the boundary of that Centre.

(3) The 14 urban Local Centres are:

(a) Aldershot Road, Westborough
(b) Collingwood Crescent, Boxgrove
(c) Kingpost Parade, London Road, Burpham
(d) Epsom Road, Merrow
(e) Kingfisher Drive, Merrow
(f) Madrid Road, Guildford Park
(g) Southway, Park Barn
(h) Stoughton Road, Bellfields
(i) The Square, Onslow Village
(j) Woodbridge Hill, Guildford
(k) Woodbridge Road, Guildford
(l)Worplesdon Road, Stoughton
(m) Ash Vale Parade, Ash
(n) The Street, Tongham.


(4) The seven rural Local Centres are:

(a) Bishopsmead Parade, East Horsley
(b) Effingham
(c) Fairlands
(d) Jacobs Well
(e) Send
(f) Shalford
(g) Shere.


4(a) When developed, the new local centres that are planned to be built at the strategic sites of:

(a) Gosden Hill (site allocation A25);
(b) Blackwell Farm (site allocation A26); and
(c) the former Wisley Airfield (site allocation A35)
will be treated as Local Centres within the context of this plan, and their location and boundaries designated in the next Local Plan review.


Proposals for new retail and main town centre uses

(5) In order to strengthen the liveliness and economic resilience of the borough's Local Centres, proposals for retail and other main town centre uses 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 small-scale development proposals for main town centre uses in rural areas.

(6) Retail and leisure development proposals over 500 sq m (gross) which are not located in a local centre, district centre, or Guildford Town Centre, and where the site is not allocated for the proposed use must be supported by a retail impact assessment.

(7) 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

(8) Within the Local 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 will not result in a concentration of such uses that would be harmful to the local centre's vitality and viability and
(b) the proposal will not result in loss of amenity in terms of noise, disturbance, smell, litter or traffic generation and
(c) the proposal will not prejudice the character and appearance of the local centre and its immediate environment.


(9) Exceptionally a proposed change of use of an A1 retail unit at ground floor level to a non-A use will be permitted, subject to criteria (8) (a)-(c), where the proposed use is a suitable ground floor main town centre use and requires a shopfront.

(10) The loss of either

(a) a shop or service unit (within Use Class A1) within a Local Centre that provides for everyday needs, or
(b) an isolated Use Class A1 retail unit that provides for everyday needs
will only be acceptable if evidence is provided of active and comprehensive marketing of the site for its current use for a minimum of 12 months prior to submission of a planning application.


(11) 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 (8)(b) and (c) above.

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



4.4.92a 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).

4.4.92b Due to the size and distribution of uses within local centres, it is not suitable to define primary and secondary shopping frontages. For each of our Local 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.

4.4.92c In Guildford borough small-scale developments means those of less than 100 sq m (gross).

4.4.92d Isolated retail unit means all A1 units situated outside of the defined retail centres. This can include more than one retail unit.

4.4.92e Shops and service units that provide for everyday needs include post offices, convenience stores, bakers, newsagents, chemists, etc.

4.4.92f Evidence of active and comprehensive marketing is defined in Appendix A2.

Reasoned justification

4.4.93 Small-scale developments of main town centre uses should be located in Local Centres as the most sustainable locations. This helps people to make a single trip to that centre for several purposes. It also provides increased competition and customer choice.

4.4.94 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.

(4.4.95 Paragraph intentionally blank)

4.4.96 It is recognised that shopping and leisure patterns are constantly changing, and that Local Centres need to be able to respond to these to stay lively and to provide opportunities for small, often independent businesses that serve local communities. A reasonably flexible approach to ground floor main town centre uses will therefore minimise vacancies within Local Centres.

4.4.97 Most ground floor uses in Local 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.

4.4.97a One of the local centres (Ash Vale Parade, 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 the designated frontage

Not to increase

Annual surveys

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


Planning applications and appeals