Shopping is concentrated in Dover and Deal town centres. Elsewhere in the urban areas and in the villages, there are small parades, groups and individual shops which serve very local areas. There are, however, two exceptions to this. The first concerns the White Cliffs Business Park at Whitfield, Dover, where there is some out-of-centre shopping. The second is the small rural town of Sandwich which contains a significant amount of shopping serving not only the local area but also some of the District's tourist trade.

Existing Situation


Dover and Deal compete for trade with other centres in East Kent, including Ashford, Canterbury, Folkestone, Margate and Ramsgate. When compared in terms of size of centre, retailer representation and rental values a clear hierarchy emerges with Canterbury dominating. Dover and Deal are at the bottom of the hierarchy, mainly serving the immediate needs of their catchment areas. In effect, major shopping trips, particularly for clothing and household products, are normally undertaken elsewhere. This results in a significant loss of expenditure from the District, as well as additional and longer journeys. Strengthening the position of Dover and Deal town centres is a main theme of this chapter.


Despite their comparatively low position in the shopping hierarchy, both Dover and Deal are experiencing pressure for new retail development. In order to provide a basis for responding to this pressure, the Council commissioned a comprehensive study of the District1. The Study took into account the Government's advice on shopping policy (PPG6), incorporated a survey of shoppers and shopping facilities, and provided a commercial assessment of shopping in the District. The conclusions of the study have provided a valuable input to the Plan.


The Study estimated the amount of money that is available for expenditure on convenience and comparison shopping and how this will change over the period to 2001. This is shown in Figures 11.1 and 11.2. The amount of expenditure that is lost to other shopping centres was also estimated.


Given the size of existing shopping centres, together with outstanding planning permissions, it is possible to reach a view as to the likely requirement for new shopping provision from a quantitative standpoint. The Study's conclusions are very similar to the County Council's, as set out in Structure Plan Technical Working Paper 4/94.


Owing to the rapidly changing nature of shopping, it is not possible to make reliable predictions for the last five years of the Plan Period. However, a supplement to the Study has provided some broad indicative figures in order to give a general picture of expenditure growth over the whole Plan Period. These are shown in Figures 11.1 and 11.2 in italics to differentiate them from the firmer predictions up to 2001. Further to this, an updating study of comparison shopping in Deal, carried out in 1997, has provided firmer expenditure figures particularly over the 2001 to 2006 period.

Applying the Plan's Aims and Objectives


With respect to Aim 1, new shopping should not involve building on countryside or valuable open space (Objectives 1 and 3). Rather, the focus of shopping activity is to be the town centres of Dover and Deal, where shoppers have greater choice of transport. In line with Aim 3 (Objective 22), town centres should provide easier access, particularly for those without a car. Objective 23 indicates that they should be welcoming places.

Shopping Strategy


Based on the existing situation and the Aims and Objectives, the Plan's shopping strategy seeks to:-

  1. concentrate new shops in the town centres of Dover and Deal;
  2. provide for the needs of the local population as far as is practical, taking into account the limitations imposed by Dover and Deal's positions in the shopping hierarchy;
  3. ensure that shops are accessible by a range of means of transport including walking and cycling;
  4. improve the quality of town centre shopping and its environment; and
  5. support local shopping, particularly in Sandwich.

While the question of access in terms of the location of new shops is considered in this chapter, complementary policies relating to access within town centres can be found in Chapter 4. Physical access to shops is considered in Chapter 8 and the potential for converting unused space above shops is considered in Chapters 3 and 10.



The Council believes that town centres are the most appropriate location for shops. The Plan's policies are very much geared to preventing any decline in the role of shopping in the town centres and maximising any opportunities for strengthening that role.


The Government's objectives include the need to sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of town centres and to ensure a wide range of shops, employment, services and facilities are available to which people have easy access by a choice of means of transport. Where the need for new development is established, the preferred location for new shopping investment will always be for town centre sites. If it can be demonstrated that no suitable sites or buildings suitable for conversion are available, an edge-of-centre site may be acceptable provided there is a need for additional facilities and there are good pedestrian and cycle links to the town centre and the development would sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of the existing centre. Such sites should be readily accessible by public transport.


Proposals for sites elsewhere in the urban area will only be considered if the above two options are not available, there is a demonstrable need for additional facilities, the site is accessible by a choice of means of transport, and the development would not undermine the key retail strategy of the Plan to sustain and enhance the existing town centres of the District. In addition, the supply of land for other uses must not be prejudiced and, if possible, the site should be grouped with other similar uses. In order to limit the possibility of retail warehousing competing directly with a town centre, any permissions will be subject to a condition restricting the range of goods which can be sold, to avoid direct conflict with existing town centres. Proposals for development beyond the urban area will not be acceptable. The sequential approach to locating major retail developments is also contained within Structure Plan Policy R1.


The Plan applies the sequential approach with one notable exception. In the case of major convenience food retail development in Dover, local circumstances justify taking a more restrictive approach. Here, sites beyond edge-of-centre will not be acceptable. Consequently, the Chapter sets out the policy requirements of food and comparison retailing by town centre, rather than having general policies which would apply throughout the District.



The following characteristics of Dover town centre are taken from a shopping study commissioned by the Council1 in 1993. Dover, which has a catchment of some 50,000 people, suffered from negative perceptions by both the retail industry and the shopping public. Shoppers did not spend very long in the town centre, suggesting that many trips were of a secondary nature. The town was generally perceived by the shopping public to be in decline and was rated poorly in terms of price and choice of goods. Access within the centre was seen as a problem, largely due to the volume of traffic. On the positive side, walking was the main mode of transport to the centre, with the private car a close second. Over 75% of shopping trips involved both food and non-food purchases. Shoppers wanted a new large foodstore in the town centre, a street market and an extension to pedestrianisation.


A substantial amount of convenience trade has been lost to out of centre stores. Some 85% of convenience shopping expenditure was retained in the catchment area. About 52% of total expenditure was retained by the out of centre Tesco store at Whitfield (which is overtrading) and only 33% by the town centre. Given the limited projected increase in expenditure, the issue for convenience retailing is one of quality rather than quantity.


The town has not performed a strong comparison goods role, with only some 50% of expenditure retained in the area. Since the capacity of existing floorspace is adequate to accommodate anticipated expenditure growth, the main issue is qualitative improvement. From 2001 onwards, growth in expenditure may help support a limited amount of new floorspace. Any further development of comparison shopping in the town centre would have benefits in terms of sustainability, by maximising the opportunity for people to use other means of transport than the car.

11.22 An error occurred in this section
11.34 An error occurred in this section



Sandwich contains a range of shops and services generally catering for the day to day needs of its own population of around 5,000 people, together with a rural catchment of around 4,000. It also has a significant role in catering for visitors, in that much of its non-food trade is of a specialist nature and dependant upon the continuing ability to attract a tourist trade. Research2 identifies a need for more restaurants and cafes. The medieval street pattern within the centre of Sandwich poses access difficulties for shoppers and some delivery vehicles. This matter is considered in Chapter 4.


Although Sandwich's facilities are limited and generally of a secondary nature, they are, nevertheless, important to the local population. The Council, therefore, wishes to make sure that Sandwich continues to be a locally important shopping centre. Owing to the nature and scale of shopping in Sandwich, it is not considered appropriate to identify Primary and Secondary Frontages. Instead, the most important areas are shown on the Proposals Map as Sandwich Town Centre Frontages, within which only A1, A2 and A3 uses will be acceptable. Proposals for A3 uses must also be acceptable within the terms of SP13. Elsewhere proposals for retail and service uses will be judged against Policy SP10.

Policy SP9 –

Within the Sandwich Town Centre Frontages shown on the Sandwich Inset of the Proposals Map only uses in Use Classes A1, A2 and A3 will be permitted in ground floor premises.

Environmental Appraisal

The policy supports the Objective of protecting and encouraging local shopping facilities in this important rural shopping centre. No Objectives are adversely affected.

Amusement Centres


Planning permission is required for the use of any premises as an amusement centre. Amusement centres include such activities as bingo halls, prize bingo centres, amusements with prizes machines and amusement only machines. Planning permission for the installation of amusement machines in pubs and cafes etc. is not required if they are ancillary to the main use of the building. However, this very much depends upon the scale and intensity of use of the amusement area. In cases of any doubt, the Council should be consulted. PPG6 describes the particular problems associated with centres and gives guidance on appropriate locations and detailed planning controls.


This advice and the nature of the District's shopping centres, leads the Council to conclude that amusement centres will only be acceptable in Dover and Deal town centre locations, provided they do not involve ground floor premises within the Primary Shopping Frontages. Even then, amusement centres should not harm visual amenity, nor cause noise or disturbance - which can only be judged in relation to the general levels of noise and activity in an area. Greater weight will be placed on these considerations if a conservation area, or other place of architectural or historic character, is affected. Locations close to noise sensitive uses such as dwellings, schools, churches and hotels will not be acceptable.


When a location is acceptable, the Council will assess the particular type of amusement centre proposed for the level of noise and general disturbance likely to be created. Depending upon this assessment, conditions may be imposed to control such matters as hours of opening and noise attenuation. Noise may be reduced by measures such as insulation, self-closing doors, the enclosure of the front of the premises and prohibiting external loudspeakers.


In addition to planning permission amusement centres require a separate permit from the Council under the Gaming Act 1968.

Policy SP12 –

Proposals for amusement centres will be permitted provided that:-

  1. they are located within the town centres of Dover and Deal, shown on the Insets of the Proposals Map, but do not involve ground floor premises within the Primary Shopping Frontages;
  2. they are not located close to uses sensitive to noise and disturbance; and
  3. they would not harm visual amenity or cause noise or disturbance, particularly in relation to conservation areas and buildings or places of special architectural or historic interest.

When proposals are acceptable within these terms, conditions may be imposed concerning such matters as hours of use and noise attenuation.

Environmental Appraisal

The policy supports the Objective of concentrating investment in urban areas. No Objectives are adversely affected.

Farm Shops


It is becoming increasingly common for agricultural produce to be sold direct to the public from the farm on which it was grown. Farm shops can serve the rural community by helping to meet the demand for fresh produce and provide a limited number of jobs. On a small scale, this can be regarded as ancillary to the main farming use and can contribute towards rural diversity. However, retailing is different in character from farming and can be a material change of use constituting development. Planning permission will be required if:-

  1. a new building or related ancillary development, such as a hardstanding for car parking, is proposed; or
  2. a significant proportion of sales is of fresh produce not grown on the farm or is of other goods imported for sale; or
  3. sales become so large that the use is no longer ancillary and an independent retail use is created.

The Council classifies such development as local shops, to be judged against Policy SP10.


1Dover District Council Retail Study; Erdman Lewis 1994
2Sandwich Looks Forward: A Strategic Plan for the 21st Century; URBED 1992