4.24 Shopping provision within Eden is centred
on Penrith, which serves as an important retail centre for a widely
dispersed population. It has a history as a small but successful
market town serving a large and captive rural hinterland. Smaller
centres within this hinterland at Appleby, Shap, Alston, and Kirkby
Stephen have a strong tradition in serving their local populations,
whilst many of the villages within the District have a village shop
and/or post office.
4.25 Whilst in the past these centres have been
able to rely on relatively captive markets to secure their economic
well-being, increases in personal mobility and new trends in
retailing mean this is no longer the case. Neighbouring retail
centres at Carlisle and Kendal have undergone considerable
environmental and commercial improvement over recent years, and the
establishment of large regional centres such as the Metro Centre at
Gateshead provide a further draw on traditionally local trade.
4.26 To some extent recent developments in
Penrith have countered these trends, with the redevelopment of the
Devonshire Arcade and Angel Square, traffic calming, and
environmental improvements, all increasing the attractiveness of
the town centre. Larger developments such as B & Q and Safeways
have enhanced the range of goods and type of retailing available in
the town. There is a need however, to build on these developments
to ensure Penrith's retailing position is maintained.
4.27 Within the rural area, the smaller centres
need to continue to develop their services and enhance their local
environments if they are to maintain their position and capitalise
on the growing tourist industry in the District. On a smaller
scale, many villages have suffered from the loss of village shops
and post offices, whilst others remain vulnerable.
4.28 National planning policy emphasises the
need to support existing town centres and their continued
development and diversification, in order that they remain
important social, cultural, and economic centres as well as
continuing to provide major retail services. Guidance also
identifies the need to plan for reduced travel, by focusing
development within or adjacent to established centres. The Local
Plan strategy pursues this guidance by supporting appropriate
development of existing centres and the reuse of established
floorspace. The support of the District's principal centres, and of
the retail provision within smaller settlements, contributes to
minimising travel needs by providing shopping opportunities close
to peoples homes.
4.29 This need to balance out of centre
development with concern for existing town centres is reflected in
the Structure Plan, which indicates that new and redeveloped
shopping floorspace should be supported in major centres including
Penrith, where it secures the long term viability and vitality of
the centre. It also allows for large stores and warehouses to be
permitted where conditions relating to impact on the environment
and vitality of town centres can be met.
4.30 Having regard to the foregoing issues, and
to the general plan principles set out at the beginning of this
document, a number of objectives have been identified for that part
of the Local Plan dealing with retail development. These are set
out below while the following paragraphs detail the associated
policies and supporting text.
Objective 32 to facilitate the
provision of a wide range of well-located shopping accessible by a
choice of means of transport.
Objective 33 to support the
maintenance and enhancement of established shopping centres and
village shops to secure their continued vitality and viability.
Objective 34 to encourage the
appropriate use of under used and unused upper floorspace in order
to improve the appearance and vitality of established shopping