Research

The NRPF Research Group meets several times a year. Members are drawn from retailers, local government, developers, investors, planning consultants, academics and representatives of third sector organisations. The meetings provide an opportunity to hear about national government policy directions and act as a forum for discussion of policy and other issues. This informs NRPF’s response to consultations. There are frequently presentations of relevant research or good practice.

The Research Group meetings are also used to formulate the NRPF research agenda. Research proposals which show promise are considered by specially convened steering groups drawn from Research Group members, or further afield if appropriate. Many proposals are better suited to bodies such as universities or consultancies, to whose attention they are drawn. The steering groups commission scoping papers to identify and specify what research should be undertaken; these are subject to review and consultation before research proposals are drawn up; funding is raised, often with partner organisations, and research is commissioned.

Current and recent projects include:

  • Before & After studies
How can Retail Impact Assessments can be made more accurate and reliable given the  removal of the needs test? A group has been working to identify available case studies and to highlight good practice.

As part of this, IKEA kindly agreed to make available ‘before and after’ studies commissioned for their stores which update the surveys carried out when permission was initially applied to find out what the actual impacts of opening have been and so giving an indication of the accuracy of the initial studies:
Example 1: Nottingham (large file – 4Mb)
Example 2: Paisley (tables are in a separate file)

There is a growing concern about long-term vacancies in the retail sector and about town centre decline.  There is an increasing recognition of a fundamental structural change in the role of town centres.  These have important implications for the industry regarding long-term property values and also open up questions about retail planning policy and about the long-term growth of retail floor space.

  • Improved Statistics for Retail Planning

Work is ongoing to improve the availability of consistent, comprehensive, timely and relevant statistics for retail planning. This work includes liaising with DCLG, VOA and a wide range of bodies who share this objective.

  • Consistency in Retail Data

There had been no accepted central source for retail planning information since the early 1990s, with differences in the definitions used by different data suppliers, and inconsistencies within data sets even from the same supplier. NRPF convened a broadly-based working group from both private and public sectors to produce a new set of definitions which were included in the Practice Guidance on Need, Impact and the Sequential Approach.

Reports and scoping papers from earlier work can be found on the publications page.

Contact us for more information about the NRPF Research Group and its work.