Decision details

The Broadway Debden, Impact Study - Presentation by Lichfields

Decision Maker: Asset Management and Economic Development Cabinet Committee

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


The Chairman introduced Mr Peter Wilks, Senior Director of Lichfields who gave a presentation of an impact study that they had produced regarding The Broadway, Debden.


P Wilks advised that Lichfields were commissioned to look into the impacts of the Epping Forest Shopping Park (EFSP) which was opened in December 2017, specifically looking back at how that application was determined in 2012. An impact assessment was prepared at that time which predicted the trade diversion and reduction in trade resulting from the shopping park. This had been established in the Council’s own town centre study in May 2010 which had been based on:


·        Visitor and household surveys;

·        Land use survey; and

·        Town centre health checks.


The historical evidence provided an opportunity to do a before and after comparison and we have looked at that data to see if there was any evidence of actual levels of impact on The Broadway.




In terms of the methodology and looking at the trading performance of centres proved to be very difficult as there had been no national published data since 1971. Therefore, we could only go on what changes had happened with the land use within the centre and how the health check undertaken in October 2018 compared with the same exercise done in 2010. Therefore if the visitor and household surveys were re-run, this would enable us to estimate the turnover and trading performance of the town centre the same way it was estimated back in 2010.


Measure of vitality and viability


The Central Government Planning Guidance set out what the measures of vitality and viability were:


·        Diversity of uses;

·        % of vacant street level property;

·        Commercial property rents/yields;

·        Retailer representation;

·        Pedestrian flows;

·        Accessibility;

·        Perception of safety / occurrence of crime; and

·        State of town centre environmental quality.


Looking at The Broadway it was found to be a relatively small centre servicing local people. There were 55 purpose built Class A units which were easy to access and navigate around. The Javelin Group rank over 3,500 retail destinations in the UK including town centres, malls, retail parks and factory outlet centres. In the Epping Forest district The Broadway was ranked third and compared favourably with other smaller centres in the district.


The number of units had reduced since 2010, this was due to the units in Torrington Drive being empty and derelict as Sainsbury’s wanted to modernise and enlarge their store and utilise the units around the store to expand and become part of their car park. Therefore on balance the number of vacancies have predominantly stayed the same.


The representation in The Broadway in 2009 was largely the same as it was in 2018:


















M&S Simply Food



Clinton Cards

Factory Outlet



The Broadway have the lowest rents in the district at £235 per sq.m with Loughton being the highest at £700 per sq.m.


Visitor Origin


The visitor and household survey that we undertook indicated the origin of the customers that visited the centre in 2009, 55% were local visitors with 45% coming from out of the area. The new survey data suggested that 85% were local visitors with 15% coming from out of the area. This also showed that the mode of travel used in 2009 more people were travelling to The Broadway by car, bus and the underground whilst in 2018 far more were walking to the centre which suggests the catchment area was more localised.


Visitor satisfaction / dissatisfaction


The survey asked visitors to rate how satisfied they were with the centre in 2009 and again in 2018 so the results could be compared. The results were mixed with some liking the centre and others not.


The range and quality of the shops and dining locations scored higher in 2018 whereas the level of pubs and bars the satisfaction rating had gone down in 2018 as the centre had lost the only pub that was in The Broadway. In terms of the environmental elements things had not changed significantly. There was still dissatisfaction in not being able to shelter from the weather. On balance visitors views remain mostly the same now as back in 2009.




The findings of the survey do not see any significant change in The Broadway since 2009 and therefore there was no clear evidence to suggest The Broadway has declined since 2009.




Councillor G Mohindra asked if the local businesses should have been approached and asked to disclose their turnover figures.


P Wilks stated that with health checks he had never seen anyone release sales or turnover data as this was commercially sensitive material.


Councillor G Mohindra asked how The Broadway compared to other centres.


P Wilks replied that The Broadway was a very small centre and you would have to compare it with other centres of the same size. In general terms it had a good mix of businesses with 10% of vacancies. The national average across all town centres for vacancies was 12% and in some centres it rose to 20% and above.


The Chairman asked if internet sales could have an impact on The Broadway as you have major stores like Marks and Spencer and Debenhams etc. who offer an internet ordering and delivery service and therefore the small town centres blame this for their loss of turnover.


P Wilks advised that internet sales had grown quite steadily over the last 20 years and looking at the most recent Experian data, taking off the internet sales still showed positive growth in in-store expenditure.


Councillor M Owen stated that the scene on the ground seemed very different to when he visited The Broadway as there were hardly any customers about. Whilst he appreciated the outcome of the report, on speaking with traders, they did not feel that trade was steady or on the up. Do you think the report could have missed anything.


P Wilks explained that the available data they had based the impact study on was from Experian where the demographics were taken into account. He also advised that he had visited The Broadway many times during 2010-2012 and had never thought or seen that it was a very busy centre.


Councillor C Pond highlighted that The Broadway was very popular some years ago because of the range of shops. it was known as a fairly major centre but had declined over the years. As the landlords, the Council need to make it more attractive looking so that it would attract people from outside of the district.


P Wilks stated that the days of fashion shopping had gone and the centre was more of a convenience centre which provided the facilities that people wanted.


Councillor C Pond added as the Council were the landlords should they not be more selective to who the units were rented to and were there any practical ways the Council could filter the traders.


K Pabani advised that the Council had an Estate Management policy and that very few units came on the market at the same time. He added that the Council did usually get more than one interested party per unit and over the last 18 months the type of tenants that have been successful in acquiring a unit were primarily local people with either a franchise or a different type of retail use that was already trading in The Broadway. Therefore, the Council were very conscious of the type of tenant mix, the affordability and competition, in terms of the pressure it would put on other tenants.


Councillor G Mohindra asked why the commercial rents in Loughton High Road were almost three times that amount of The Broadway.


P Wilks advised that Zone A commercial rents do vary from centre to centre and are largely based on the attractiveness of the centre.


D Macnab stated, without wanting to pre-empt or pre-judge the outcome of the Cabinets Decision on the 7 February 2019, he highlighted a report regarding the Discretionary Buisness Rates. In the Government’s Autumn Budget of 2018 it was announced that all eligible retailers with a rateable value below £51,000 are eligible to receive a one-third discount on their business rates bill. There are 34 Independent traders in The Broadway who would be eligible. The cost to the District Council was cost neutral as Central Government would be paying for this relief.


Councillor C Pond acknowledged that this was very good news for the traders of The Broadway.

Publication date: 07/02/2019

Date of decision: 17/01/2019

Decided at meeting: 17/01/2019 - Asset Management and Economic Development Cabinet Committee

Accompanying Documents: