A RETAIL study carried out by North Devon Council and Torridge District Council has revealed that by 2032 the area will need just 4,436sq m more floor space for convenience retail – equivalent to roughly one medium-sized supermarket.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean only one supermarket will be built in North Devon in the next 20 years.
For the study, which cost about £31,700, the two councils contacted 1,000 households across North Devon through a polling agency and used the data collected to build a picture of where people do most of their shopping.
The data was split into convenience retail, which covers food shopping and all other essential items, and comparison shopping, which covers items such as clothes or electrical goods, items people are prepared to shop around for.
The results show North Devonians will spend £529m on comparison goods in the area this year, with just under 40 per cent (£207.9m) of that money being spent in Barnstaple town centre.
Twelve per cent (£63.4m) was spent in the rest of Barnstaple while just 11 per cent (£57.9m) was spent in Bideford, including Atlantic Village.
The results also showed about 18 per cent of comparison goods would be bought online and 22 per cent of all money spent on comparison goods by locals would be spent outside of the area, most notably in Exeter.
The results also showed North Devonians will spend £399m in the area on food shopping, with £51m spent at Sainsbury’s in Roundswell alone.
The area’s seven town centres will pull in less than half as much from convenience shopping as one supermarket does.
Using the data collected, and the predicted rate of economic and population growth, the councils were able to forecast that by 2032 there will be demand from the North Devon public for another 31,210sq m of comparison retail floorspace and 4,436sq m of convenience retail floorspace.
The figures assume planning applications which have been granted permission, such as the application for a Premier Inn, McDonalds and other retail units near Atlantic Village, go ahead.
It also assumes an existing application for Anchorwood Bank in Barnstaple will go ahead, although this seems unlikely with another application for the site having been lodged recently.
But the recommendations resulting from the study do not mean any application which fits with these figures will automatically go ahead.
North Devon’s head of planning, Keith Bines, said the study would not pre-determine any planning application.
“People may see the ‘need’ identified for retail space,” he said, “and equate that to whether an application should be approved or not.
“But applications will still be assessed on their merits and will be subject to impact assessments.”