Policy 18: Retailing and town centres

What are we trying to achieve?

Thriving town and local centres where the viability and vitality of town/local centres are maintained, recognising these are at the heart of the communities which they serve.

What is the issue?

Many shops in the Lake District are focused on meeting demands of the visitor economy. Whilst the visitor economy has a significant positive effect on the number and choice of retail uses, and helps to support local shops and facilities it can also out-compete retail uses that are focused on resident communities. The majority of new retail space over the past five years has been for restaurant and café use, sometimes at the expense of shops. There have also been other notable losses of shops to other uses in the defined shopping areas over recent years.

Our suggested approach

We will continue to identify Primary Shopping Areas – reducing the number from seven to four covering areas - Ambleside, Bowness, Keswick, and Windermere as we recognise differences in the role of these settlements.

We will continue to require a retail impact assessment for retail floorspace – we will lower the threshold to proposals above 1,250 square metres.

We will have a hierarchy outlining where we will support retail provision and the scale of it.

Policy 18: Retailing and town centres

We seek to support and maintain the viability and vitality of town/local centres recognising these are at the heart of the communities which they serve.

Ambleside, Bowness, Keswick, Windermere

In the Primary Shopping Areas of Ambleside, Bowness, Keswick, and Windermere we will support retail and town centre uses where proposals:

  • maintain and enhance the vitality of these centres; and
  • enable the interchange between town centre uses where they would not harm the settlement’s vitality and range of uses.

Outside the Primary Shopping Areas a sequential test for the location of development will be applied. Proposals for edge of centre and out of centre locations will only be supported where evidence demonstrates that proposals would not harm the vitality or viability of the shopping areas.


In other Rural Service Centres and Villages we will support the provision of small scale retail and town centre provision. The location of this provision should be well related to any existing retail developments or other community services.

In cluster communities and the open countryside we will only permit retail uses that:

  • do not introduce inappropriate levels of use to the location; and
  • are part of an agricultural or land-based rural business diversification scheme (see Policy 20); or
  • have an essential need for a rural location that cannot be accommodated elsewhere.


A retail impact assessment will be required for all proposals containing retail uses that create over 1,250 square metres (net) floorspace. The retail impact assessment requires a quantitative and qualitative assessment of existing floorspace and requirement for additional floorspace.

Have your say!

Consultation closed on 29th June. Thank you to all of those who took part. Please keep an eye on our Local Plan homepage for announcements and feedback on the consultation

Allocations of land

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