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Evaluating the effects of planning policies on the retail sector: or do town centre first policies deliver the goods?


  • Cheshire, Paul
  • Hilber, Christian A. L.
  • Kaplanis, Ioannis


Few studies conceive of land as a productive factor but British land use policies may lower total factor productivity (TFP) in the retailing industry by (i) restricting the total availability of land for retail, thereby increasing space costs (ii) directly limiting store size and (iii) concentrating retail development on specific central locations. We use unique store-specific data to estimate the impact of space on retail productivity and the specific effects of planning restrictiveness and micromanagement of store locations. We use the quasi natural experiment generated by the variation in planning policies between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to isolate the impact of town centre first policies. We find that TFP rises with store size and that planning policy directly reduces productivity both by reducing store sizes and forcing retail onto less productive sites. Our results, while they strictly only apply to the supermarket group whose data we analyse, are likely to be representative of supermarkets in general and suggest that since the late 1980s planning policies have imposed a loss of TFP of at least 20%.

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  • Cheshire, Paul & Hilber, Christian A. L. & Kaplanis, Ioannis, 2011. "Evaluating the effects of planning policies on the retail sector: or do town centre first policies deliver the goods?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 31757, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:31757

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul C. Cheshire & Christian A.L. Hilber, 2008. "Office Space Supply Restrictions in Britain: The Political Economy of Market Revenge," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(529), pages 185-221, June.
    2. Griffith, Rachel & Harmgart, Heike, 2008. "Supermarkets and Planning Regulation," CEPR Discussion Papers 6713, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gabriel Ahlfeldt & Kristoffer Möller & Sevrin Waights & Nicolai Wendland, 2012. "On prisoner's dilemmas and gilded cages: The economics of heritage preservation," ERSA conference papers ersa12p783, European Regional Science Association.
    2. Rode, Philipp & Floater, Graham & Thomopoulos, Nikolas & Docherty, James & Schwinger, Peter & Mahendra, Anjali & Fang, Wanli, 2014. "Accessibility in cities: transport and urban form," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60477, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Nathan, Max & Overman, Henry G., 2011. "What we know (and don't know) about the links between planning and economic performance," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59232, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Paul C. Cheshire & Christian A. L. Hilber & Ioannis Kaplanis, 2015. "Land use regulation and productivity—land matters: evidence from a UK supermarket chain," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 43-73.
    5. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Nicolai Wendland, 2013. "How polycentric is a monocentric city? Centers, spillovers and hysteresis," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 53-83, January.
    6. Crafts, Nicholas, 2012. "Creating Competitive Advantage: Policy Lessons from History," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 91, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    7. ., 2014. "Residential segregation and people sorting within cities," Chapters,in: Urban Economics and Urban Policy, chapter 3, pages 54-76 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Paul C. Cheshire & Christian A. L. Hilber & Ioannis Kaplanis, 2012. "Evidence from a UK supermarket chain," Working Papers 2012/15, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    9. Sevrin Waights, 2016. "The Preservation of Historic Districts - Is it Worth it?," SERC Discussion Papers 0202, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.

    More about this item


    land use regulation; regulatory costs; firm productivity; retail;

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • R32 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Other Spatial Production and Pricing Analysis


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