Panel: Lucy Noone, Allied London; Clare Huber; Cheshire West & Chester Council; Mark Paynter, Rivington Land; Arnold Wilcox-Wood, The Rock Bury; Martin Wedderburn, Sustainable Transport Planning & Research; Stephen Tregenza, Metis Real Estate

Futureproofing Retail | Summary, slides + photos

Comments (0)

Challenges facing new retail developments, including tech innovations, expanding leisure offerings, car park demands and consumer trends were all discussed at a varied and lively Futureproofing Retail event.

See below for gallery + link to slidesDAC Beachcroft Medium green

Sponsored by DAC Beachcroft, the breakfast briefing reflected the varied landscape faced by the retail sector in 2016, and looked at both emerging large-scale developments such as Chester’s Northgate, and St John’s in Manchester, as well as more established shopping centres such as The Rock in Bury. The pressure from the ever-increasing growth of e-commerce, accommodating new food and beverage outlets, and how to consistently deliver a varied mix of retailers were key themes.

Reflecting the mix of issues dominant in retail, speakers included transport planner Martin Wedderburn, who gave an overview of the disruptive potential of driverless cars on town centres, retail developments and consumer habits; retail agent Dan Davies and leisure agent Stephen Tregenza from Metis Real Estate on footfall and rent trends; and an update on progress with the £300m Northgate development in Chester, by Clare Huber, project director for Cheshire West & Chester Council and Mark Paynter from developer Rivington Land.

They were joined for a panel discussion by Lucy Noone, business development manager for Allied London, advising on the restaurant occupiers for the London Road and St John’s schemes, and Arnold Wilcox-Wood, centre director for Bury’s The Rock.

Driverless cars

  • Arrival is inevitable, said Wedderburn, it’s a question of when
  • Change could be “incremental”, with automation added to cars in phases until majority of vehicles are partly automated by 2025
  • Alternative is a sudden splash from a large tech company such as Google which delivers a fully-automated vehicle in one product
  • Alters perception of leisure time if passenger can relax during journey, allowing for travel to greater distances, potentially enjoying online shopping and drinking en-route
  • Major implication for end of parking, as only need drop off points. For High Streets suffering through lack of parking, could bring back footfall
  • For out-of-town retail parks, would potentially have a lot of extra space, and opportunity to develop or release land in high value areas

Agent’s perspective – challenges to high streets

  • Out-of-town retail parks and shopping centres are accessible, with free parking
  • Supermarkets offer a wider range of products
  • E-commerce the biggest threat, described by Metis’ Davies as “the death star for retail”, with 10% of overall retail spend online and set to double in the next 10 years


  • Flexible leasing for occupiers, parking discounts, integrate independent brands for variation
  • Consumers who use catering spend 48% more on retail goods
  • ‘Stay longer, spend longer’ trend is shaping the market
  • Big brands still a big attraction; John Lewis still brings 30% of all footfall to Liverpool ONE


  • £300m development value
  • 350,000 sq ft proposed, in mix of retail, leisure, cinema, restaurants and market
  • Market can be converted to other uses for long-term flexibility
  • Planning application submitted, result due in September
  • According to Huber “spent seven years getting it right”
  • Paynter stressed variation of tenant mix will be important; Chester lacks brands in the mass/middle market. 27% of shops in Chester target premium market
  • edges of scheme include the Cathedral, hotel, offices, library and residential
  • In current market occupiers less likely to commit in advance, said Paynter, so proceeding without pre-let

The Rock

  • “The Rock came and conquered Bury” said Wilcox-Wood, and is now the third most popular shopping centre in Greater Manchester
  • Getting councils on board with schemes essential, as need to be part of wider strategy to avoid “doughnut towns like in America, where people work in city centres and leave behind empty towns”
  • Retailers change format every five years, whereas shopping centres change every 17 years, so planning for the future is a challenge
  • Plans to expand at The Rock; building units for four restaurants

Allied London’s food & drink strategy

  • For London Road Fire Station plan is to use hospitality brands to create a destination from day one, said Noone
  • Developing relationships with smaller operators and start-ups, working with them as they grow
  • At St John’s, want to create “a district where people want to live and be”, and not move out of town too quickly
  • Seeing interest from more London-based companies. Dominance of Living Ventures, while great for the city, is starting to ease
  • According to Noone confidence is still not entirely there in Manchester for the independent market, although it is growing

Click any image below to launch gallery

To view the Metis presentation, click here


Your Comments

Read our comments policy here