Willow Brook Centre submits plans for new foodstore in extended retail unit

Elevation plan.
Proposed front elevation of the extended retail terrace.

Plans have been submitted for the creation of a large new foodstore at Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook shopping centre which would be created by more than doubling the size of the retail unit currently occupied by Poundstretcher.

The proposal put forward in a new ‘full’ planning application is an alternative to the existing ‘outline’ consent for the addition of two new non-food units at the end of the retail terrace, of which the applicant says there is currently “no intention to pursue”.

The proposed alterations would see the existing unit extended in size from the current 974 sqm (gross internal floorspace) to 2,114 sqm, an increase of 1,140 sqm.

Photo of a Poundstretcher store.
How the Poundstretcher store at the Willow Brook Centre looks today.

A planning statement submitted as part of the new application says:

“The delivery of a foodstore in the designated town centre will provide additional choice for local residents, complementing existing retailers in the centre. The development will strengthen the vitality and viability of the designated town centre.”

Parking spaces reduced

The development of McDonald’s and Starbucks restaurants and drive-throughs at the Willow Brook Centre has already seen vehicle parking provision reduced by 80 spaces.

Under the new proposal, there would be a further loss of 55 vehicle parking spaces at the centre, reducing the total number of spaces provided to 872 (from the current 927).

This contrasts with the scheme granted outline planning consent, which would see no additional parking spaces lost as a result of extending the retail terrace, but would also involve moving the centre’s access road closer to residential properties along the northern boundary of the site.

Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Care, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

A study report submitted as part of the application claims that, with the new foodstore in place, maximum occupancy of the car park would be 77 percent on a Friday and 68 percent on a Saturday, leading the applicant to state:

“The assessment clearly demonstrates that the town centre car park has sufficient capacity to accommodate the proposed development and that the reduction in parking [space] numbers resulting from the proposals will not have any detrimental impact on the operation of the car park.”

However, South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) transport department has questioned the validity of the applicant’s assessment on the grounds that it is based on a survey carried out on a single weekend in May 2022. In a consultation response, a transport officer writes:

“It is quite possible the May count will have been affected both by the [McDonald’s/Starbucks] construction works and by the sunny weather, both of which may have reduced the demand that weekend. The risk is that the reduced car parking area is insufficient at times of the year for the demand, which if the case will have implications on queuing to and from the site.”

Proposed block plan of the extension to a unit in the retail terrace. The red line shows the scope of the application, which includes the existing Unit 6 currently occupied by Poundstretcher. The proposed extension to the retail terrace is shaded dark grey.

Impact on traffic

Although the applicant concedes that the new foodstore would generate additional vehicle trips, it is argued that around 30 percent of trips involving visits to the proposed store would be ‘linked trips’, i.e. by customers who would have travelled in any case to visit other stores at the centre.

An assessment submitted with the application concludes that the proposal would result in an additional 118 two-way trips during the weekday evening peak and an additional 60 two-way trips in the Saturday peak, leading the applicant to state:

“This increased volume of traffic is not assessed to be significant in the context of the town centre.”


Possible tenant

In relation to its earlier planning application, the Willow Brook Centre previously said that it would only submit a ‘reserved matters’ (detailed) application for the retail terrace extension once it had tenants signed up.

The submission of an alternative ‘full’ planning application, might be taken as an indication that a (single) tenant has now agreed a lease. However, correspondence from the applicant available to view on the planning application webpage states that “there is no named tenant for the proposed foodstore at this stage”.

There has been speculation on social media that discount retailer Lidl might be interested in occupying the proposed extended unit. This seems to derive from the long-standing inclusion of “Bradley Stoke” in a list of areas that the firm says are of interest as potential locations for new stores.

However, a source at the Willow Brook Centre recently told the Journal that no tenancy agreement has been signed in connection with the proposed development, adding that they are unable to comment further at present.

Advertising image.

More information and related links

At the time of writing, the new planning application remains open to public comment – via the ‘Make a comment’ button shown on the application webpage (see link above). Registration may be required if you haven’t previously commented on a planning application.

Share this page: