Regeneration review raps supermarket design ethos

Regeneration projects based on supermarkets will damage communities unless retailers break their reliance on inappropriate designs, a report by CABE has warned.

In a review of 30 schemes, the government's design adviser found that many simply transplanted standard shed designs typically used on out-of-town sites to town centres where large plain buildings are unsuitable.

CABE said the practice of putting "a large rectangular building and car park in the middle of towns" undermines place-making. Chief executive Richard Simmons said localism would make it even more in supermarkets' interests to propose projects that benefit the area.

The quango also voiced concern about integrating housing and supermarkets, citing cases where residents accessed homes from basement car parks or had balconies above delivery yards.

It praised a Sainsbury's store in Fulham, west London, which is set behind smaller shops and homes so as not to dominate the street scene. But a Tesco store at Bromley-by-Bow came under fire for putting homes in a tower that overlooks a motorway.

The agency urged planners to equip themselves with the design skills "to be confident that the proposal supports local expectations".

A British Retail Consortium spokesman said: "Retail investment is important for regeneration as other sources dry up. Retailers are not trying to drop unsightly boxes onto unwilling communities because they hope that local people will be customers."

Tesco Development and Planning chief architect Martin Young added: "We already take into account many of the issues raised in the report. Despite the challenge of taking into account often conflicting opinions from the community, the local authority and CABE, we have been successful in opening new space because we have a flexible approach to store design."

Meanwhile, CABE has issued separate guidance to councils on the transfer of parks and open spaces to community groups.

The study includes eight examples of neglected land on housing estates being adapted into community gardens and temporary uses of sites awaiting development. "The higher the quality of green space, the more likely it is to be used," CABE director of public space Sarah Gaventa said.

Supermarket-Led Development - Asset or Liability? is available at PlanningResource.co.uk/doc


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