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Recovery Tow Show | December 14, 2018

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1000 independent garages to be wiped out warns PRA

1000 independent garages to be wiped out warns PRA
James Baylis

“Up to one thousand independent forecourt sites will be wiped out by new supermarket forecourts by 2017 unless the Government takes action” said Brian Madderson (pictured) Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA) Chairman.

The PRA report commissioned from Christie + Co looked at the planning applications for new petrol filling stations between 2009 and the third quarter of 2012. It found that an average of 40 supermarket forecourts were being granted permission each year, and Steve Rodell, director and head of Retail at Christie & Co said: “If applications continue at the same rate, and there is no reason to believe that will not be the case, there will be another 160 supermarket sites by the end of 2016.

Additionally, ASDA and Morrison are seeking to buy or develop standalone forecourt sites where an existing out-of-town store has insufficient land.  This means that another 25 to 40 filling stations each year are owned and operated by hypermarkets.

“Experian Catalist figures show the average supermarket site sells 11.2mlpa compared with 2.1mpla for independents, meaning that each new supermarket site is sucking the equivalent volume of five independents out of the market. If left unchecked the expected growth in supermarket forecourts would kill off 1000 independents over the next four years.”

Madderson continued “This is an absolute disaster for independents, unless the government does something to curb the expansion of supermarket forecourts by insisting that Planning Regulations specifically involve a rigorous “impact” test.

“In many cases, planners are having to wave through additional forecourt developments, including those added to existing out-of-town stores. Under the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPFF) planners should ‘guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services to ensure that established shops, facilities and services are able to develop and modernise in a way that is sustainable, and retained for the benefit of the community’. These new guidelines are designed to protect existing jobs, essential community facilities and SME’s.

“It may also be that with hypermarkets selling fuel at artificially low prices the full impact of traffic generated from customers being drawn to cheap fuel is not being taken into proper account.”

“The PRA is urging the Planning Minister Nick Bowles to develop new planning guidance for filling stations so that their full impact on local communities, businesses and facilities is taken into account and weighed against any benefits arising from such applications.”

The Christie + Co report has been used by the PRA as part of its submission to the OFT calling for an inquiry into the retail fuel market.