A lot of out of town retail parks will not have changed much since they were developed. Possibly only the names have changed since the 1990’s. Some will have added more leisure and up until March 2020 a good number were increasing their size. Now the outlook is quite different with many stalwart retailers either gone or going. The pool of big box retail tenants is going to look smaller, at least for the next few years.
So what is the future for retail parks?
Destination is a well-used word for retail centres, whether it is town centre or out of town. Mixing up the offering on a retail park is a natural first step. Could we see more restaurants, medical centres, beauty, education and other services on retail parks? The recent planning use class changes may help here.
Fulfilling the needs created by the pandemic logistics and distribution boom is another avenue. If existing transport links are already good then converting units could fill the need for local warehousing and distribution created by the boom in on-line sales. Some could become last mile drone delivery centres. How else can business satisfy customer demand for deliveries within hours of making an order?
Total change, beyond logistics, is clearly on the cards for some parks. Across the country there is demand for housing, student accommodation, sci-tech space and education sites.
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