CS29: Weston-super-Mare Town Centre

CS29: Weston-super-Mare Town Centre

Within Weston-super-Mare town centre areas will be defined, through an Area Action Plan, to provide a focus for retail, leisure and entertainment facilities and commercial office development to regenerated the town and provide a prosperous, modern, vibrant town centre to serve the existing and future population of Weston. Housing, along with other appropriate uses, will also be incorporated as part of mixed use schemes in these areas.

Retail Core

The regeneration of Weston-super-Mare's town centre will be achieved though the provision of land for major retail development within the retail core. This may include other uses that are appropriate and compatible with town centre activities and which will assist in the enhancement of the centre and the range of shops, services and facilities it has to offer. The two main sites prioritised for retail-led development within the town centre are Victoria Square and Dolphin Square. Retail-led development proposals will need to:

1) Significantly contribute towards the provision of 20,050m2 of comparison floorspace needed by 2016.

2) Address the need for an additional 2,250m2 of convenience

floorspace in the retail core needed by 2016, through an improved and enlarged food store.

3) Be of the highest quality design which makes a positive and distinct contribution to the existing built environment.

4) Strengthen physical and visual connections between the retail core, the seafront and gateway area.


Alongside and adjacent to the seafront priority will be given to entertainment and leisure uses, tourist facilities and accommodation. Priority will be given to regeneration of key redevelopment sites such as Tropicana and Birnbeck Island.

Development proposals in this area should:

1) Have consideration for the sequential approach to development based on PPS6: Planning for Town Centres and not prejudice the vitality and viability of the retail core, but instead should complement activities in the town centre.

2) Strengthen pedestrian and visual links and connections between the seafront and the retail core such as through planned improvements to 'Pier Square'.

3) Be of the highest quality design which will enhance the visual appearance of the seafront and promenade.

Gateway Area

The redevelopment of sites within the gateway area will make more efficient use of land intensifying development in this area. Redevelopment proposals in the gateway area will primarily be for commercial office development and should not harm the viability or vitality of Weston's town centre or seafront. Development in this area should:

1) Contribute towards the provision of approximately 80,000m2 of class B1 floor space.

2) Be of a high quality design that will enhance the visual image, and emphasise the importance of the gateway to the town centre.

3) Minimise the generation of car trips by concentrating uses around the train station and improving the public transport infrastructure.

4) Strengthen connections to the town centre through new and improved pedestrian and cycle routes.

This policy contributes towards achieving Priority Objectives 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10.


Weston-super-Mare's town centre has suffered from a lack of major investment over the last thirty years. The town centre is perceived to be uncompetitive with other centres in the sub-region because of access constraints and its relatively poor retail offer. Due to its coastal location Weston's town centre is, to a certain extent, constrained in terms of expansion. However, this coastal setting is also the town's main asset.

The planned expansion to Weston-super-Mare over the next twenty years through a 9,000 home urban extension and the creation of over 10,000 jobs will see a huge increase in demand for shops, services and leisure facilities.

Weston-super-Mare's town centre needs to meet this demand in order to secure future self-containment of the town and to fulfil its role as a Strategically Significant Town within the district and the sub-region.

Weston High St and Sovereign Centre

The Core Strategy approach

Retail: North Somerset's Retail and Leisure Survey (April 2006) identified a need for new comparison (non-food) shopping of approximately 32,100m2 and the need for approximately 3,000m2 of additional food retail in Weston town centre up until 2021. However, retail forecasts which project so far into the future should be treated with caution. Therefore, the projected figures up to 2016 have been used as a guide of approximately 19,000m2 comparison (which has been increase to 20,050m2 as it is estimated there is slightly more capacity on the sites identified for comparison retail uses) and 2,250m2 convenience retail. These should give a more accurate projection, and are more realistic in terms of delivery within the immediate plan period[1].

Weston town centre has historically suffered from having a lack of readily identifiable sites for new retail development, which has resulted in occupiers locating in competing centres such as Bristol, Bath and Taunton. The town centre policy, which will be expanded upon through the Weston Town Centre Area Action Plan, aims to identify sites within the town centre for retail development to meet the projected retail need. This will achieve the step-change in the quantity and quality of the retail provision needed to improve Weston's image and enable it to compete as a shopping destination within the sub-region.

Tourism: Tourism and leisure activities have traditionally played an important role in Weston's economy. The council recognises that tourism is an important part of the town's economy, but also recognises that Weston currently caters for a very small section of the tourist market. According to the Weston-super-Mare Visitors Survey 2007 there were 6.1 million visitors to Weston, 85% of which were repeat visitors. In order to retain its role as a tourist destination Weston needs to broaden its appeal and tap into the wider tourist market offering attractions, events and accommodation which will attract a varied range of visitors.

Improving the image of Weston-super-Mare as a holiday destination will depend on a number of factors. The provision of high quality accommodation, a more upmarket retail, leisure and restaurant offer and an improved built environment are all factors that will significantly contribute to raising the image of Weston. Equally, branding of the town and positive publicity such as high profile new developments or national events such as T4 on the beach, creates the necessary exposure to attract new visitors. North Somerset Council's destination management team is currently developing a new brand for Weston-super-Mare which aims to establish a clear identity for the town which reflects and conveys its special qualities and can be used to link together and reinforce the range of products, experiences, attractions and events Weston has to offer.

Employment: The strengthened role of Weston town centre needs to include an expansion of employment opportunities. The economic regeneration of Weston-super-Mare is a key strategic aim of North Somerset Council. This is to be achieved through the promotion of a more sustainable balance between employment and housing.

Traditionally the lack of employment opportunities in Weston-super-Mare has resulted in significant out-commuting. Increasing local employment opportunities will assist in minimising the number of residents who commute to work at destinations outside the town, increase the self-containment level of Weston and result in a larger labour force which will support and sustain the services and facilities in the town centre.

The town centre lacks any existing good quality well-located office space and there are few sites allocated for this use. These have been major obstacles to expanding the employment opportunities in Weston town centre.

The town centre offers the most sustainable location for commercial office development and there is scope to provide significant new office floor space, particularly around the railway station. Allocating centrally located sites for office development will intensify development in the gateway area creating a sense of arrival in the town centre, increase levels of activity in the gateway area and strengthen links with the town centre.

Ensuring there are employment uses in the town centre will add to the mix of uses which combine to create a more vibrant, viable, dynamic town centre and office-led regeneration will diversify the local economy, thereby ensuring the town has less reliance on seasonal industries and tourism.

Housing: The council is committed to increasing the amount of employment uses in relation to the amount of housing to redress the current imbalance that exists in the town. This is a strategic objective set out in the emerging RSS and Core Strategy.

However, the council also recognises that within Weston town centre residential development will be an essential component to delivering a vibrant, viable dynamic town centre. Furthermore, due to the complex nature of developing a number of the sites including issues such as potential retention and conversion of historic buildings and remediation costs on a number of sites, residential uses may act as enabling development to ensure the viability of a number of schemes.

While the council is committed to increasing the jobs to homes ratio within the town as a whole, some flexibility may be needed to ensure delivery of financially viable, sustainable mixed use schemes on sites within the town centre.

How and where the policy will be delivered

The outcomes will be delivered within the boundary for the town centre identified in the Area Action Plan. This boundary includes the seafront and extends out along the A370 incorporating a numbers of sites on the approach to the town centre. The AAP identifies 15 priority sites for development and it is anticipated that development proposals will be focused on these sites.

The Weston-super-Mare town centre policy will be delivered through close liaison between the council, its partners, landowners and developers. The council will continue to engage with major landowners and highlight the role their sites can play in the regeneration of Weston town centre.

As a landowner the council will ensure that its land is used effectively to meet the wider town centre objectives and will where appropriate work closely with other landowning interests and developers.

A Weston Town Centre Landowners Group was established in March 2007 and is used as a vehicle for co-ordination between different landowning interests in the town centre. The Weston Advisory Group, which was established in 2005 provides co-ordination between landowners in the town centre and major landowners outside the town centre linked with the proposed urban extension to Weston-super-Mare.

Alternative options and contingency planning

The alternative approach to development in the town centre would be to allow piecemeal development on a site-by-site basis. This is an unacceptable option as it does not provide a comprehensive long-term approach which would achieve the vision for Weston-super-Mare town centre. By identifying areas and sites within the town centre for specific land uses the policy ensures that the uses on each site complement each other and do not prejudice the vitality or viability of the town centre.

Monitoring and review

In order to assess the success of the policy in meeting the objectives various indicators will be monitored. These include the proportion of vacant shops in the retail core, the amount of retail (A1) floorspace in the retail core, the amount of new business floor space in the town centre and gateway area and the amount of additional leisure floor space within the AAP area.

1. These figures have been rounded to the nearest 1000m2 [back]