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The purpose of this section is to consider issues affecting the current and future provision of retail space in Alnwick, and an enabling environment for a prosperous market town. Alnwick shops and businesses serve the residents of the town and the surrounding district and tourists, both day visitors and holiday makers staying one or more nights. The town has effectively two retail zones, the historic Town Centre (Bondgate, Market Street, Narrowgate, Fenkle Street and the shops around the Bus Station), and out of town retail at Willowburn and the Lionheart Industrial Estate.

The retail provision of the town affects and is affected by local employment, transport (especially parking and public transport), tourism and heritage.


retail issues and options paper download link


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Despite a challenging external environment:


The following are proposed as the Town Centre & Retail objectives:


In summary, some of the key considerations involve:



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Present Context

A summary of findings from recent retail studies is included as Appendix 1 to this paper.

These studies suggest that despite a challenging external environment:
  • retailing in Alnwick is relatively vibrant and with a lower proportion of voids than many other centres
  • the retail mix in the Town Centre is fair with a good proportion of independent retailers
  • Alnwick shops are estimated to benefit from just over 50% of the retail spend of local residents and those in the surrounding district
  • commercial rents reflect approximately Alnwick’s 7th position (by value of retail spend) amongst the market towns of Northumberland

In 2011 Alnwick Town Centre was recognised in awards from Google Earth and BBC Countryfile Magazine.

The Northumberland County Council town centres study (2011) suggests a need for some increased capacity both in terms of convenience and comparison and retail space*. Given the constraints upon space within the historic Town Centre it is likely that any such additional capacity would need to be accommodated either out of town to the South or as part of linear development along the line of South Road.

* Convenience goods are consumer goods purchased on a regular basis, including food, groceries toiletries and cleaning materials. Comparison goods are durable goods such as clothing, household goods, furniture, DIY and electrical goods.

Policy Context

Objectives for the Plan

The following are proposed as the Town Centre & Retail objectives for the Plan:

Issues and Options

The following list of issues derives from:

Issue 1

To meet the needs of local residents and visitors to the town, Alnwick must offer good mix of retail including both convenience and comparison shops, cafe and bars, and service providers (hairdressers, personal finance etc).


Should Alnwick invest in a Town Centre Retail Plan to provide a template for retail development of the Town Centre space?

correct pros
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Should the Plan specify a desired target for the ratio between retail shops and other commercial uses for premises in the Town Centre?

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Issue 2

The retail character of Alnwick is in part a product of a continued high proportion of independent retailers. This is seen as a defining and distinctive advantage.


Should Alnwick be encouraging a continued high proportion of independent retailers, or does Alnwick need more prestige high street chains to attract/retain shoppers in the town?

correct pros
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Issue 3

Alnwick has a compact and attractive town centre with many distinctive heritage features. The Plan needs to offer solutions to blend an appealing retail offerings with the town’s heritage character.


Does Alnwick need an integrated plan for the spatial development of the Market Place, the Northumberland Hall, and the historic Town Centre both to optimise heritage value of the Centre and to attract/retain shoppers and visitors?

correct pros

** In December 2011 Mary Portas published a report and recommendations following an independent review into the state of our high streets and town centres commissioned by government – see

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Should a retail and spatial plan for the Town Centre include proposals for partial pedestrianisation?

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Issue 4

Retail studies suggest that Alnwick will need some expansion of retail space (especially comparison retail/white goods) in years to come. Some expansion may also help Alnwick to maintain/increase its share of spending from local residents.


Should the Plan encourage further out of town retail development, and if so where and of what character?

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Issue 5

If new retail outlets are created away from the Town Centre, this will change the character of Alnwick retail offering.


How can the Plan best integrate Town Centre and out of town retail to contribute to the economic health of Alnwick and its hinterland?

correct pros
wrong cons
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Background Papers

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