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The Gyle Impact Study - Research Findings

DescriptionThis research study of the Impact of the Gyle upon the 15 principal centres and free-standing superstores within the Gyle's catchment.
ISBN0 7480 5564 9
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateDecember 29, 1998
Development Department Research Programme Research Findings No. 24 (1996)
The Gyle Impact Study

Roger Tym & Partners in association with: Oscar Faber TPA

ISBN0-7480-5564-9Publisher The Scottish OfficePrice £5.00
In the summer of 1987 a public inquiry dealt with appeals against non-determination of 4 applications on 3 sites for competing retail developments designed as district centres to serve West Edinburgh. The result of the West Edinburgh Inquiry was issued in June 1989 when the Secretary of State approved the largest proposal, Maybury Park, subject to a number of conditions. The retail floorspace was reduced by 9,290 sqm (100,000 sq ft) from the applicant's original intentions in response to fears about the impact on surrounding centres. Maybury Park evolved into the Gyle Centre. In March 1995, assisted by a project Advisory Group, The Scottish Office commissioned this research study of the Impact of the Gyle upon the 15 principal centres and free-standing superstores within the Gyle's catchment. This study addresses all aspects of retail, traffic and transportation impacts and is one of the few examples of a comprehensive 2-stage 'before and after' assessment of impact of a major retail development undertaken in the UK.
Main findings
  • The Gyle is performing very successfully as a modern district centre with overall turnover greater than anticipated in 1987 when under consideration for planning approval - a function of its location in terms of nature of catchment, accessibility to the strategic road network, excellent car parking and attraction through its retail composition and high quality of retail offer.
  • Significant adverse impacts have been experienced on convenience shopping at Corstorphine, Wester Hailes and Hunter's Tryst; and on comparison shopping at Edinburgh City Centre, Cameron Toll, Dunfermline and Livingston. However, the Gyle has not had a critically adverse or terminal impact on any one established centre.
  • The approach of overlaying a comprehensive range of qualitative and quantitative assessments provides detailed insight into all aspects of the Gyle's performance and impact.
  • The Gyle's catchment is relatively concentrated with 82% of convenience and 76% of comparison trade drawn from within a 20 minute drive time.
  • The Gyle has achieved 5.1% convenience and 7.8% comparison market share within the study area.
  • Real growth in expenditure 1993-95 of 6.1% in comparison and 5.3% in convenience shopping has compensated for the impact of the Gyle on existing centres.
  • Growth in tourist expenditure has underpinned Edinburgh City Centre's continued vitality and viability.
  • Aggregate turnover at the Gyle is estimated to be £166m (£65m convenience and £101m comparison).
  • The Gyle has had a significant adverse impact upon the surrounding road network and has made a marked contribution to vehicle emissions from shopping trips.
  • Mode of travel to the Gyle is dominated by cars with 84% of all trips.
  • Trip rates to the Gyle are in excess of other comparable centres.
  • Car parking capacity is being exceeded sometimes at peak hour on a Saturday between 2-3pm leading to queuing onto the main road network.
  • The dominance of car-borne travel to the Gyle underlines the need to consider very carefully the environmental implications of locating new retail developments in places not well served by public transport.
In March 1995, assisted by a joint public and private sector Advisory Group, The Scottish Office commissioned a research study of the impact of the Gyle Centre. A baseline assessment had already been undertaken of conditions prior to the opening of the Gyle on 11 October 1993. The objectives of this research were to assess:
  • the role and function of the new shopping centre at the Gyle
  • its attraction relative to traditional centres and free-standing superstores in its catchment
  • trading levels, viability of and impact on, rival centres together with employment effects
  • to what extent trips to the Gyle are newly generated or diverted from elsewhere, and whether trips are different in nature from shopping trips elsewhere
  • the traffic and transport implications
  • the implications for energy consumption in transport
The Study was also to draw conclusions on the wider implications of the Gyle in the context of emerging government policy on Retailing and Transport in Scotland; and suggest improvements to the methods used to assess the accuracy or relevance of impact assessments produced in advance of developments.
The centres which were the subject of assessment within the catchment comprised:
Town and District centresLocal centres and free-standing food stores
Edinburgh City Centre
Falkirk Town CentreSainsbury-Craigleith
Livingston Town CentreTesco-Dumbryden Road
Dunfermline Town CentreSafeway-East Craigs
Cameron Toll District CentreSafeway-Hunter's Tryst
Corstorphine District CentreScotmid-South Queensferry
Davidson's Mains District CentreScotmid-Chesser Avenue
Wester Hailes District CentreAsda-Halbeath Retail Park
Characteristics and performance of the Gyle
Description and retail composition
The Gyle Centre currently comprises 27,870sqm (300,000sqft) gross retail floorspace of which 17,650sqm (190,000sqft) is net retail floorspace. It is anchored by a Marks & Spencer store incorporating a foodhall and a Safeway food superstore, linked by a mall which contains another 69 smaller units. A food court and management suite are provided on a second floor. The majority of retailers and floorspace are for the sale of comparison goods - 57% of net retail floorspace (10,048sqm - 108,165sqft), with the remaining 43% (7,602sqm - 81,835sqft) convenience space. National multiples predominate (72%) with the remaining retailers (28%) local multiples and independents. 95% are of good quality upper or middle market outlets.
The Gyle employs an estimated 1,025 people. With 82% of jobs being part-time/casual, this represents 521 FTE's. 68% are female and 32% male. 40% of employees live within 5 miles of the Gyle, and a further 32% within 6-10 miles. 73% were newly recruited representing new opportunities for the local labour market.
Turnover, market share and floorspace efficiency
The Gyle has secured 5.1% of convenience market share in the study area. 82% of trade is drawn from within 20 minutes drive-time from the Gyle, with only 4.5% originating outwith the study area.
The Gyle has secured 7.8% of the comparison market share within the study area. 76% comes from within a 20 minute catchment, and up to 10% from outwith the study area.
The Gyle achieves an estimated total turnover of £166 million (£65m convenience and £101m comparison). This comprises £153m from the study area (£62m convenience and £91m comparison) and a further £13m from outwith the study area (£3m convenience and £10m comparison). This is in aggregate some 64% greater than anticipated at the West Edinburgh Public Inquiry; comparison 84% greater; and convenience 41% greater than 1987 projections.
The centre achieves a floorspace efficiency ratio (turnover per net floorspace area) of £8,127/sqm (£775/sqft) at 1993 prices for convenience - slightly lower than the study area average at £8,837/sqm (£821/sqft); and £9,074/sqm (£843/sqft) at 1993 prices for comparison - higher than Edinburgh City Centre.
Accessibility, traffic and transportation
In terms of traffic flows, typically c.80,000 vehicles per week arrive at the Gyle, although seasonal variations can occur. Peak daily traffic flows occur on a Saturday with c.16,000 arrivals and departures per day, with the quietest a Monday and Tuesday with 10,000 vehicles. Hourly traffic flows peak on a Sunday between 2 and 3pm with c.1,900 arrivals, compared with a Saturday afternoon peak of c.1,700 vehicle arrivals.
Mode of travel to the Gyle is largely by car (84%); bus (9%); and walk or cycle (6%).
Public transport serving the Gyle has barely changed since its opening, although the range of services has narrowed through deregulated rationalisation of services with only a limited coverage of the catchment area.
Trip rates are exhibited in excess of those found at other comparable centres. The Gyle's proximity to the strategic road network provides high levels of accessibility across the catchment area, and allied to the nature and high quality of its retail offer, acts as an attraction to car-based shoppers. A major proportion (78%) of all shopping trips by all modes of transport to the Gyle are home-based, with 65% of all trips comprising a home-Gyle-home pattern. Linked trips - those with a different next destination after leaving the Gyle to the trip origin - account for c.28% of all trips to the Gyle. Pass by trips account for c.18% of linked trips in comparison with research which suggests that the figure for new foodstores is generally c.30%.
The Gyle draws upon a relatively local catchment area with 44% of all shoppers from within a ten minute journey time, and a further 49% originating within a 30 minute catchment area.
The Gyle provides 2,540 public and a further 300 staff car parking spaces. At certain periods the car park is operating close to capacity, and during the Saturday afternoon peak is sometimes exceeded, leading to queuing onto South Gyle Broadway.
In summary, the Gyle Centre is performing very successfully as a modern district centre. This success is a function of the centre's location in terms of nature of catchment, accessibility to the strategic road network, excellent car parking provision, and its attraction through its retail composition and high quality of retail offer.
Impact of the Gyle
Convenience Retail Change
The Gyle has had a major convenience impact upon Corstorphine primarily due to the closure of the Safeway Superstore there. This closure and diversion of convenience trade largely to Safeway-Gyle, Safeway-East Craigs and Sainsbury-Craigleith, allied to further convenience units leaving the centre, has resulted in a loss of over 80% of convenience turnover (-£21.4m) and is thus now no longer "anchored" by large foodstores. In the short term, the loss of linked trip expenditure and footfall could undermine its viability and vitality, and in the long term affect business confidence and prospects of re-investment.
Although Cameron Toll and Safeway-Hunter's Tryst market shares were affected, convenience turnover at Cameron Toll has remained constant due to real turnover growth, and the 15% fall in Safeway-Hunter's Tryst turnover is unlikely to threaten the store's viability.
Scotmid-South Queensferry experienced a convenience turnover decline of 29.3%. However, the transference of trips has largely been to Sainsbury-Craigleith and Safeway-East Craigs, not to the Gyle.
Wester Hailes lost 47% of its convenience turnover and this was most concentrated in the Gyle's 10-20 minute catchment population, with a fall of almost 70%. However, the Wester Hailes' catchment has become more compact with a 10% turnover increase within the 0-10 minute catchment. This change is substantiated by patterns of trip and traffic redistribution to the Gyle. However, as Wester Hailes is diversifying its retail function through part conversion to entertainment use, its viability is unlikely to be affected.
Four free-standing superstores have experienced notable increases in market share and turnover. Turnover increases comprised Sainsbury-Craigleith (106%), Tesco-Dumbryden Road (66.7%), Safeway-East Craigs (51.5%) and Asda-Halbeath (31.4%). The increase for Sainsbury represents the store establishing its true market share having only just opened at the time of the Baseline Study. The others reflect the ever increasing concentration of convenience shopping towards large superstores, which tend to draw upon relatively local catchment areas, attracting shoppers to the nearest and most convenient store offering modern facilities.
Comparison retail change
With comparison retailing all centres in the study area have seen a fall in market share in percentage terms since 1993 in the face of the Gyle establishing a market share of 7.8%. This has been drawn primarily from the 0-20 minute catchment, although its influence also extends beyond the 30 minute catchment area.
Edinburgh City Centre remains the prime comparison centre but with a reduced market share from 52.9% to 48.5%. However, it has also seen its comparison turnover from the catchment increase by 3.1%. The dominance of the City Centre makes it a special case, and with attracting nearly 50% of available comparison turnover, it benefits greatly from any real expenditure growth (estimated as 6.1% between 1993-95). In addition, the estimated £34m growth in visitor expenditure is an increasingly vital element. By removing the tourist element of comparison turnover, the City Centre has experienced a fall in domestic expenditure of £12.9m.
Cameron Toll which competes directly in the Gyle's core catchment areas, has been severely affected with a 24.5% (£9.94 million) decrease in turnover levels and a 29.2% reduction in comparison market share. However, this transference of trade from the west of Edinburgh to the Gyle is being compensated for at Cameron Toll by increasing trade drawn from the east and south-east of the conurbation. Furthermore, Cameron Toll previously appeared to have been over trading. The opening of the Gyle has resulted in a reduction of the centre's turnover to more expected levels. Despite this impact, the centre continues to be fully let and car parking utilisation remains unchanged.
Dunfermline has experienced a fall in both market share (18.5%) and turnover levels (13%). In addition, there has been a small reduction in comparison trips to Dunfermline compensated for by a significant increase in bulk and household good shopping trips.
Livingston has experienced an overall market share fall of 16% and a comparison turnover decrease of 10.4%. While comparison trips to Livingston have shown a slight increase overall, there has been a reduction in trips from the town itself compensated for by gains from elsewhere in West Lothian. This trend is also true for bulk and household goods shopping. Livingston continues to act as a district centre and is planned to grow to sub-regional status. This will be sustained by the recent development of the new Safeway superstore, and the current construction of the major phase 2 extension to Almondvale.
Changes in parking demand
In terms of car parking demand, no clear trends have emerged with Friday showing an overall reduction across all centres of 8% since 1993. Wester Hailes, Safeway-East Craigs, Safeway-Hunter's Tryst, Tesco-Dumbryden and Scotmid-Chesser Avenue experienced a reduction in demand, while Safeway-Davidson's Mains, Sainsbury-Craigleith and Scotmid-South Queensferry have increased demand. Overall parking demand on a Saturday at all centres has increased by 30%, while individual centre increases have been experienced throughout the catchment except for Wester Hailes and Scotmid-Chesser Avenue.
Peak hour traffic flows change
Overall traffic flows have either increased or shown little change at individual centres. For peak hour traffic flows on Friday and Saturday, there has been an increase in total in traffic flows to free-standing centres of 5-10%. This is in line with background traffic growth of 6% in the west of Edinburgh.
Local traffic impact
The Gyle has had a notable impact upon the surrounding road network. Institution of Highways and Transportation guidelines on traffic impact assessment suggest increases in traffic flows resulting from new development of 5-10% are considered to be significant. Traffic to the Gyle accounts for c.65% of the two-way flow on a Friday and c.85% on a Saturday along South Gyle Broadway. The Gyle also accounts for 10% of the City Bypass daily traffic flow on a Friday and 15% on a Saturday. Similarly, the Gyle accounts for 8% of traffic flow on the A8 west of Gogar on Friday which increases to 10% on a Saturday; and 12% on a Friday east of Gogar Roundabout which increases to 17% on a Saturday.
Changes in public transport
The number of bus services has remained relatively stable or shown a slight decline, with the exception of Corstorphine where a slight increase in provision has occurred. The Gyle has not had a direct impact on provision at other centres and any changes have largely occurred due to rationalisation of services.
Changes in energy consumption and pollution
The Gyle makes a significant contribution to emissions from shopping trips to and from study centres. This can be explained by the Gyle's great attraction for car-borne shopping trips and that a significant proportion to the Gyle were new trips. With energy consumption and pollution, the key finding is that the Gyle's contribution is significant only when looking at shopping trips to free-standing centres in the study area. This impact is diluted in the context of total shopping trips and total vehicular trips within the study area.
Impact assessment conclusions
Retail impact assessments
Retail impact assessments are only of value when based upon hard quantifiable data and reasonable evidence. Thus emphasis must be placed upon an empirical approach with surveys used to investigate two central issues - turnover and shopping patterns. The value of the Study lies in its relative rarity as a comprehensive 'before' and 'after' assessment, and its function as an analogue. The important analogue issues derived from the Study are the patterns of trade draw, access and achieved turnover - for a development of this size and in this type of catchment. This assists in making impact models perform better. However, analysts must still calculate the likely trade diversion for a proposed development, and in this the Gyle example will be of limited value as the centre is unique. Therefore, this calculation can only be arrived at by means of survey.
A further conclusion is that little weight should be given to assessments which are pivotal on an assumption as to the precise retail operator composition of a development. The estimation of retail impact and presentation of the conclusions is best dealt with in terms of a centre as a whole.
Finally, the existing structure of retailers in an area must be assessed in detail to determine whether one retailer is dominant, resulting in trade transference internal to that retailer's outlets or corporate closure of specific units; or else there may be a diverse range of retailers resulting in increased customer choice and enhanced competition. As a result, the assessment can provide a much more informed view of a proposal's likely impact.
Traffic impact assessments
The Study provides an invaluable data source on trip rates, appropriate to centres of a similar size and nature to the Gyle. This clearly highlights the factors important in influencing modal choice, given its strategic location adjacent to the principal road network, the provision of free parking, and the lack of a good direct public transport links, car-borne trips dominate. More 'before and after' research is required in this area.
The retail impact assessment establishes guidelines on trade draw which informs the assessment of trip origin and the subsequent assignment of trips to the affected road network. In the past the two impact assessments have largely been carried out in isolation. The conclusions on trade draw and catchment area clearly show how trip origin reflects trade draw characteristics; and the benefits of integrated assessment.
Generally background traffic levels are taken to be at their highest at the Friday evening peak hour, particularly for foodstores, and this is used for the assessment of such proposals. Experience at the Gyle, demonstrating a flatter profile of traffic flows during the week but peaks at the weekend, emphasises the need to examine a Saturday and Sunday peak to establish potential traffic impact.
Operational difficulties at the Gyle underline the need to ensure the careful design of car parking and access arrangements and adequate provision at the planning stage, to minimise congestion occurring with 'knock on' effects on the adjoining road network.
The Study clearly demonstrates the need to consider high quality public transport links, providing segregated, targeted, and frequent services as one means of influencing modal choice to these types of centres. The provision of bus services alone is clearly not enough to influence modal choice by public transport, given the locational characteristics of the Gyle and its parking supply.
The dominance of car-borne travel to the Gyle and the consequent impact on CO2 emissions underlines the need to consider very carefully the environmental implications of locating new retail developments in locations not well served by alternative transport modes. This emphasises the need to take a more realistic transport impact approach to the assessment of new retail development, where the potential for maximising the use of modes of transport other than the car is addressed practically at the planning stage.
Conclusions on wider policy implications
A key lesson from the Gyle Impact Study is that even with a background of expenditure growth a new development of 30,000 square metres or so will have some adverse effects and these usually will be on the closer or adjacent centres. The fact that up to now the Gyle has not had a critically adverse or terminal effect on any one centre is because its trade diversion effects have been largely distributed amongst four nearby centres and Edinburgh City Centre. In other words adverse impact has not been focused primarily on a single nearby centre whilst the greatest absolute volume of trade diversion has been from one of the UK's most buoyant city centres. However, implicit in this conclusion is the fact that the size of the Gyle was limited by the Secretary of State to 27,870sqm (300,000sqft). A significantly larger centre would have a different trade draw pattern and a greater turnover.
About the research
The study was carried out by consultants Roger Tym & Partners in association with Oscar Faber TPA. This "Research Finding" contains the consultants conclusions summarised from their final report to The Scottish Office.
"The Gyle Impact Study", the Research Report summarised in this Research Findings, is available price £15.00 for the main report. Two additional Volumes of Technical Appendices may also be purchased at £5.00 each.
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