Landscape architects have said the future of retail development lies with inner-city and brownfield regeneration sites, despite the Government releasing figures showing that only 40 per cent of retail space is being developed in towns.
The Government has been trying to encourage retail developments in town centres but new official figures show that for 2003, only 26.6 per cent of retail floorspace was built in town centres.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has promised to act against what it describes as “the growth of sprawl”. But in the past 10 years, around 9.3 million square metres of retail space has been created in out-of-town shopping malls and retail parks.
The ODPM suggested the “massive time lag between planning permission and development” meant that it could take several years to reverse the trend.
Landscape architect Tom La Dell said: “We are doing more refurbishments. Retailers now want slightly smaller units with landscaping at the front.”
He added that retailers wanted visibility for their units, with vertical planting, rather than broad foliage.
He said much of his work now involved replacing poor landscaping in badly designed old retail parks on city edges, including work for Land Securities at Lakeside in Thurrock, Essex.
Landscape architect John Hyland said: “Most of our new work is in the centre of towns. The trend for out-of-town developments is coming to its limit. People are returning to towns and we are seeing the redevelopment of town centres.”
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