The Brighton & Hove Retail Study prepared for the city council by GVA Grimley has indicated that there is scope to increase retail turnover in the city by a massive £1.2bn over the next ten years…… if we can find the space and increase productivity.
Sales of non-food items are expected to grow from £1.6bn today to £2.8bn by 2016 via a combination of increased resident population (expected to grow by 9%) and Brighton’s continuing role as a regional shopping centre.
The report also highlights our weak position with regard to department stores; shops with large floorplates (see earlier story in knowledgebase – Build Sooner, Pay Later. 27th July 2006); connectivity of the various separate shopping areas; cleanliness of the retail areas and the possibilities for expanding the retail offer.
Access and congestion with poor pedestrian circulation are also problems holding back our productivity and the report urges that pedestrian crossing points on roads and reduction in traffic are areas for proactive consideration.
Internet shopping is cited as a rapidly growing facility competing with bricks and mortar shops. Brighton is currently ranked 6th most popular location in the UK for retailers seeking outlets but we do not have the large stores that most of them require.
Click on download below for a copy of the executive summary of the report
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP COMMENT
There are 1447 shops in Brighton city centre alone (this does not include London Rd, Hove or St James’s St) but the average floor area is measure in hundreds, not thousands of feet. Towns of similar profile e.g. Oxford, Cambridge, York etc, have an average of fewer than 600 shops but they have much larger floor areas.
The vast majority of these shops are independently owned and managed which is a great strength that goes some way to compensating for our lack of department stores. The report suggests that the old Post Office site in Ship St could be converted to a department store perhaps together with the TK Maxx unit which was originally Vokins.
In the early 1990s there was also a discussion to convert what is now Peacocks, Sport Soccer and Freespirit at the western end of North St into a department store by combining it with Barclays Bank but the consequent loss of historic street pattern (Portland St) defeated the idea.
It would appear that the most promising scheme for increasing Brighton’s retail offer and providing the large floor plate units that are most in demand and also the most efficient would be the wholesale expansion of Churchill Square linked into the redevelopment of the Brighton Centre.
Click here to download Executive Summary
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Retail, pubs, clubs and restaurants
City Centre Strategy