Publication Local Plan, Chapter 12: Town centres and retail development

Creating a fairer Salford by:

  • Ensuring that all communities have access to a good range of shops and services within attractive town and local centres
  • Avoiding the inappropriate overconcentration of food and drink uses that could detract from quality of life

12.1 Salford’s network of town and local centres plays an important role in meeting the varied needs of people of all ages, through the provision of a range of shops, services, community, leisure and employment opportunities, and public transport options. The centres are an important contributor to local identity, acting as a focal point for surrounding communities.

12.2 Salford is near some of the region’s largest centres for retail and leisure uses, including the primary shopping area of the City Centre in Manchester, Bolton town centre, and the Trafford Centre. The City Centre and the Trafford Centre in particular account for a major proportion of Salford’s comparison goods expenditure and this is unlikely to change significantly during the plan period. It will be important to ensure that Salford residents can continue to take full advantage of the broad range of high quality shopping and leisure opportunities just outside the city, and improved public transport access will be a key aspect of this.

12.3 The proximity of these major facilities outside Salford results in the town and local centres in the city generally functioning at a more local level, playing a vital role in meeting the everyday needs of residents. The exception to this is Salford Quays, which is unique compared to other town centres in terms of its role, the substantial development opportunities that it offers, and its physical nature and layout. It has well established tourism, employment, retail, leisure and residential functions, but currently has a more limited role in meeting the day-to-day needs of residents for shops and services. The designation of Salford Quays town centre is considered to complement the existing hierarchy and it is not considered that this would have an adverse impact on existing centres.

12.4 Maintaining the vitality and viability of centres will be an ongoing challenge as shopping patterns and service delivery models change, especially with the growth of online retailing. Careful management of centres will be required in order to ensure their long-term success, with a clear focus on sustaining and creating vibrant destinations where activity can continue into the evening, with the retention of a robust retail presence complemented by a varied mix of uses including a strong leisure and community offer. At the same time opportunities will be taken to make the most of the unique identity of centres and the key assets and opportunities within them, improve walking and cycling access to and through centres, and deliver improvements to the public realm. Any comprehensive redevelopment of centres should be guided by a masterplan endorsed by the city council. Increasing the number of people living within and around the centres will help to generate the footfall necessary to support a good range of shops and services but it will be important that residential uses do not displace the essential retail, leisure, employment and community functions of the city’s designated centres. All occupiers of residential properties should enjoy a high level of amenity, but in these areas it is reasonable for residents to expect a certain level of activity and noise close to their homes.

12.5 As well as identifying the boundaries of the centres themselves, this plan also defines primary shopping areas, primary frontages and secondary frontages for the town centres. None of the city’s local centres are considered to be of a sufficient scale to make a distinction between primary and secondary frontages meaningful.

Policy TC1 - Network of designated centres 

The following network of centres within Salford, as shown on the Policies Map, will be protected and enhanced: 

City centre

  1. City Centre (located in both Manchester and Salford) in accordance with policy AP1

The primary shopping area in Manchester will continue to provide the main focus for retail activity within the City Centre. Within City Centre Salford, retail floorspace, leisure uses and community facilities will be focused on prominent frontages, busy intersections with high footfall, and where they can add vibrancy and best meet the needs of the neighbourhood.

Town centres (listed in no priority order)

  1. Cheetham Hill (predominantly in Manchester)
  2. Eccles
  3. Pendleton
  4. Salford Quays
  5. Swinton
  6. Walkden

The network of the city’s town centres will meet the majority of the everyday needs of Salford’s residents for shops, other main town centre uses and facilities. A coordinated approach will be taken to the improvement of each town centre, with an emphasis on taking advantage of the unique character of the centre and delivering a diverse range of uses that supports its vitality and viability. High density housing will be encouraged above active ground floor uses within town centres. Housing at ground floor level will be required to complement and not displace main town centre uses, in accordance with policy TC3.

Local centres (listed in no priority order)

Within Central Salford:

  1. Broughton Village
  2. Charlestown
  3. Hope
  4. Irlams o’ th’ Height
  5. Langworthy Road
  6. Leicester Road
  7. Mocha Parade
  8. Ordsall
  9. Regent Road

Within West Salford:

  1. Bolton Road, Pendlebury
  2. Boothstown
  3. Cadishead
  4. Clovelly Road, Worsley
  5. Ellenbrook
  6. Higher Irlam
  7. Lower Irlam
  8. Little Hulton
  9. Monton
  10. Patricroft
  11. Peel Green

The network of local centres will have an important role in providing local shops, leisure opportunities, food and drink uses (subject to policy TC4) services and community facilities for the surrounding neighbourhoods. There will be an emphasis on maintaining a strong convenience goods retail function in each centre, so they can continue to provide sustainable top-up shopping facilities and minimise the need for residents to travel further, complemented by a range of other town centre uses. This will be achieved through the careful management of changes of use within the centres. Residential uses above ground floor level will be encouraged within local centres.

Primary shopping areas and frontages 

Primary shopping areas are those parts of a defined centre where retail development is concentrated. It is important that the retail function of these areas is maintained to ensure that each centre’s retail offer functions effectively and supports the overall vitality and viability of that centre. 

Within primary shopping areas, A1 retail provision is concentrated in the primary frontages. Other complementary main town centre uses can add to the vitality, but it is important that the retail character and function is not eroded and continues to be the primary form of provision within primary frontages. 

Secondary frontages within primary shopping areas provide additional opportunities for retail uses and will be supported, but also contain a greater diversity of uses. Within secondary frontages a wider range of uses will be supported such as public facing services, businesses, leisure and restaurant uses.   

The primary shopping areas together with primary and secondary frontages for each of the city’s town centres and the potential extension to the Salford Quays town centre primary shopping area are shown on the Policies Map insets and in Annex B. Neither primary nor secondary frontages are identified for local centres, with the entirety of such centres being defined as the primary shopping area. 

Centres can evolve over time and changes to the role and function of primary shopping areas, primary or secondary frontages should be guided by a masterplan or comprehensive redevelopment strategy.

Development involving main town centre uses

12.6 Locating retail and other community and leisure facilities within the City Centre, town centres and local centres is considered to be the most sustainable way of meeting the needs of Salford’s residents. It helps to maximise the accessibility of facilities for more people and promotes linked trips, which in turn reduces the need to travel and can increase footfall and hence improve trading conditions within centres. Scattering facilities across a wider area would be likely to adversely affect the vitality and viability of the centres, leading to their gradual decline and reducing their ability to attract new retail floorspace to the city and serve the needs of residents.

12.7 It is therefore essential that as much of the new retail floorspace and as many other facilities as possible are located within Salford’s centres, in accordance with the sequential approach set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Although significant population growth is projected, the scale and extent of the various centres designated in policy TC1 is considered sufficient to accommodate the vast majority of retail and other facilities that will be required. Retail uses will be focused within the primary shopping areas of the centres so as to maximise their vibrancy. Any significant out-of-centre retail floorspace in Salford beyond current commitments, other than where specifically referred to elsewhere in the Local Plan, is considered unnecessary and would be likely to reduce the success of some of the city’s centres.

12.8 Due to the limited opportunities within the existing primary shopping area and the potential requirements for additional retailing in Salford Quays to support the area’s residential, business and tourism populations, an extension to its existing primary shopping area may be required. Once occupied by such uses, the potential extension to the Salford Quays primary shopping area east of the existing MediaCityUK site will become part of the primary shopping area. Whilst this core area should be the main focus for activity, some small scale A1 retail and food/drink uses outside of the primary shopping area and expansion area within the boundary of the town centre would add to the success of Salford Quays.

12.9 Planning applications for main town centre uses need to be accompanied by an appropriate level of information so as to enable the city council to determine whether their impact on existing centres would be acceptable.

Policy TC2 - Development involving main town centre uses 

Sequential approach 

Main town centre uses [1] shall be located in accordance with the following sequential approach (highest priority first) and the table below: 

  1. Within designated centres (‘in centre’)
  2. In locations on the edge of designated centres (‘edge of centre’)
  3. Accessible sites which are well connected to a designated centre
  4. Other locations that are accessible by walking, cycling and public transport

Proposals in sequentially less preferable locations will only be supported where it can be demonstrated that there are no available suitable sites or premises in sequentially preferable locations, and that a flexible approach to scale and format has been applied. 

The table below defines ‘in centre’ and ‘edge of centre’ for the designated centres in Salford that are identified in policy TC1. For some centres, the table sets out a more detailed sequential approach that retail uses in use class A1 must follow (highest priority first), subdividing ‘in centre’ and/or ‘edge of centre’ locations, in order to support the successful functioning of those centres. 

Proposals for A1 retail uses within City Centre Salford will only be required to consider ‘in centre’ locations in preference where the proposals would: 

  1. Be likely to have a significant adverse impact on the primary shopping area of the City Centre or on any other designated centre; or
  2. Not provide an appropriate mix of uses for the purposes of policy AP1. 

Centre type

Sequential approach by use and type of centre

(highest priority first for each centre and use)

A1 retail uses

Other main town centre uses

City Centre Salford

Edge of centre

1) Within the City Centre Salford boundary [2]

In centre

1) Within the City Centre Salford boundary 

Edge of centre

2) Within 300 metres of the City Centre Salford boundary

Salford Quays town centre

In centre

1) Within the Salford Quays primary shopping area

2) Within the potential extension to the Salford Quays primary shopping area 

Edge of centre

3) Elsewhere within the Salford Quays boundary

4) Outside the Salford Quays boundary but within 300 metres of the Salford Quays primary shopping area or its potential expansion area

Leisure and food and drink uses shall follow the same approach as for A1 retail uses. 

Other main town centre uses: 

In centre

1) Within the Salford Quays boundary 

Edge of centre

2) Within 300 metres of the Salford Quays boundary

All other town centres

In centre

1) Within the primary shopping area of the town centre

Edge of centre

2) Elsewhere within the town centre boundary

3) Outside the town centre boundary, but within 300 metres of the primary shopping area of the town centre

In centre

1) Within the town centre boundary 

Edge of centre

2) Within 300 metres of the town centre boundary

Local  centres

In centre

1) Within the local centre boundary 

Edge of centre

2) Within 300 metres of the local centre boundary

In centre

1) Within the local centre boundary

Edge of centre

2) Within 300 metres of the local centre boundary

Impact assessment

An impact assessment will be required for any development proposal outside the boundary of a designated centre identified in policy TC1 that would involve: 

  1. An increase of more than 500m2 (gross) of retail (Use Class A1) or leisure floorspace; or
  2. An increase of between 250m2 and 500m2 (gross) of retail floorspace (Use Class A1) where any of the following raise concerns in relation to an existing centre:
    1. The scale of the proposal relative to the size of the units in the centre;
    2. The health and vulnerability of the centre;
    3. The nature of the proposal;
    4. The potential cumulative effects of recent developments; or
    5. The likely effects of the proposed development on the implementation of a relevant council strategy or any planned investment in the centre. 

These thresholds apply to new floorspace, extensions to existing floorspace, changes of use and applications seeking variations to conditions. 

For the purpose of applying the impact assessment, leisure development includes cinemas, restaurants, drive-through restaurants, bars and pubs, nightclubs, casinos, health and fitness centres, indoor bowling and bingo halls. 

Managing changes within centres 

12.10 Successful town and local centres are underpinned by a strong retail function both in terms of convenience and comparison goods, and this role should be protected and retained. This is important in meeting the day-to-day needs of residents. Centres must also have an appropriate mix of leisure, community, cultural and service provision, and this will be increasingly important for ensuring that they can generate the footfall necessary to remain attractive in the face of the growth in online shopping.

12.11 As a result, it is vital that changes of use and redevelopments within designated centres are carefully controlled, so as to support the long-term success of the centres and their ability to meet local needs. In this context, it is recognised that Salford’s town and local centres vary in scale, function and composition of uses, and this needs to be taken into account in the determination of individual proposals.

Policy TC3 - Retail frontages, changes of use and redevelopments within designated centres 

The role of Salford’s centres in meeting a wide range of local needs will be protected and enhanced. A strong retail function will be retained for each centre, and the primary shopping areas of the town centres will have a particularly important role in this regard. Retail uses will be complemented by a broad range of other services and facilities. 

Changes of use and redevelopments within designated centres will be carefully controlled to ensure that they support, rather than detract from, the successful functioning of the centres and their ability to meet local needs. All such proposals will be required to: 

  1. Make a positive contribution to the vitality, viability and diversity of the centre;
  2. Not unacceptably impact on daytime footfall;
  3. Maintain a strong role for the centre in providing a varied range of convenience goods and meeting other day-to-day needs;
  4. Positively restore and/or enhance the character and appearance of the frontage;
  5. Maintain the continuity of active frontages; and
  6. Be of a scale and type of use appropriate to the size and function of the centre, or part of the centre concerned.

Within the primary shopping frontages of town centres, proposals that would involve the loss of A1 retail units will only be supported where the development would: 

  1. Not be harmful to the overall shopping function of the centre having regard to the number and duration of vacancies;
  2. Not result in a concentration of non-retail uses that would be harmful to the vitality of the primary shopping frontages;
  3. Extend the offer and range of activities available to shoppers and other users so as to enhance the visitor experience of the centre; and
  4. Provide an active frontage and a direct service to visiting members of the general public.

Ground floor residential uses will only be acceptable in designated centres where they are in frontages with low levels of footfall, and there is no realistic prospect of securing an active use in the unit. The positive use of underused and vacant space on upper floors of properties within town or local centres, including for housing, will be encouraged.  

For the purpose of permitted development rights, the local centres and the primary shopping areas of town centres are classified as key shopping areas. 

Food and drink uses 

12.12 Bars, restaurants, cafes and similar uses can broaden the daytime attraction of a centre, as well as supporting a vibrant evening economy, and they have an important role to play in the long-term success of Salford’s designated centres. However, the overconcentration of such uses in a centre can create significant problems. It will be important to ensure that such development cumulatively does not harm the character and function of a centre, undermine its vitality and viability, or lead to significant problems of crime, disorder and noise that would unacceptably impact on the amenity of those living and working in the area.

12.13 Within Monton local centre there has been a marked increase in the number of food and drink uses in recent years, and it is considered that a tipping point has been reached, whereby further changes of use to food and drink would be likely to harm the retail character and function of the centre as well as the amenity of neighbouring residents. 

Policy TC4 - Food and drink uses within designated centres

A successful daytime and evening leisure-based economy within Salford’s designated centres will be encouraged. Individual proposals for A3, A4 and A5 uses will be supported where they are in accordance with Policy TC3 and: 

  1. There would be no likely unacceptable impact, either individually or cumulatively, on the amenity and character of the surrounding area, particularly due to noise, litter, odour, traffic generation, parking or disorder/nuisance; and
  2. In the case of Monton local centre, it can be clearly demonstrated through extensive marketing for a period of at least 12 months that there is a lack of demand for reoccupation by:
    1. Active main town centre uses other than A3, A4 or A5 uses; or
    2. Community facilities. 


12.14 The main indicators that will be used to monitor this chapter are: 


Baseline position


Proportion and amount of new retail floorspace (gross) granted consent and delivered within designated centres

Refer to the council’s town and neighbourhood centre review [3]

No target

Vacancy levels in each designated centre

Refer to the council’s town and neighbourhood centre review [4]



Changes in % of floorspace occupied by the following uses in each centre:

  • A1 comparison
  • A1 convenience
  • A1 service
  • A2 financial and professional services
  • A3/4/5 food and drink uses
  • Other uses


Refer to the council’s town and neighbourhood centre review [5]

Maintain a balanced mix of uses within individual centres to support their vitality and viability


[1] Main town centre uses are defined in the Annex 2 to the National Planning Policy Framework

[2] The primary shopping area of the City Centre is located wholly within Manchester.

[3] Salford City Council (October 2016) Town and neighbourhood centres review. Centre surveys updated  every two years

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

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