Market Insight

What does the future hold for Dorset town centres?

The challenges faced by the UK’s highstreets and town centres have been clear for all to see over the past 18 months.
October 20, 2021
But as more people return to work and following on from the recent announcement of Bournemouth’s ranking as the 4th happiest place to live and work, are we rounding a corner, and will our town centres follow suit?

If the recent £22 million ‘Town Deal’ funding to deliver ambitious regeneration plans for Boscombe town centre is anything to go by, then the future looks bright.

Together with the consultation due on the region’s new BCP-wide Local Plan, it is an exciting time of potential for Dorset’s town centres.

Eleven sites with a gross development value of over £2 billion have been earmarked for regeneration by BCP Council, and the interests of town centres have been protected with the creation of BCP Futureplaces Ltd. However, could recent planning changes hamper town centre regeneration plans?

Over the summer, permitted development rights (PDR) were extended and a “higher threshold” for the use of ‘Article 4’ directions by local councils, was implemented.

The changes have the potential to deliver significant conversion of buildings from non-residential to residential in town centres, which would allow much needed footfall back into these areas.


Whilst positive in town centre regeneration terms, the changes remove the ability of local councils to steer PDR development within their local area, despite what might be laid out in the Local Plan.

This will be particularly detrimental for local authorities without significant landholdings in their town centres, who will now have less control over what is developed there.

To understand more about what the latest planning changes mean for your town centre regeneration plans and to submit development sites to the BCP Council Local Plan for allocation, our Bournemouth-based planning team can help.

Contact us to discuss your town centre regeneration plans or if you wish to submit development sites to the BCP Council Local Plan for allocation.

Contact Ben Christian