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From the 1970s on wards, the pattern of retail has changed radically. Out-of-town centre shopping has developed on a large scale, following patterns first seen in the US. These changes have been made possible by widespread car ownership, which allows people freedom to choose where to go for major shopping trips, rather than leaving them dependent on town centre locations accessible by public transport.

Most cities and major towns have their own out of town centre shopping centres, the biggest of which are regional shopping centres that draw their own custom from well beyond the city in which they are located.

Examples include:

Trafford centre – Manchester

Merry Hill – West midlands

Bluewater– Kent

All these centres:

·      Were built on the edge of major conurbation, where land is cheaper than centres

·      Were build on land that was derelict – this made the land comparatively cheep and planning permission comparatively easy to gain; however, there were often big clear up cost, sometimes these were met by the government

·      Are close to major road transport networks, motorways or major bypass roads

·      Have plenty of space for car parking that’s usually free or at least much cheaper than centres

·      Already had or soon to be developed public transport links by train, bus or new urban transport systems

·      Early in their development attracted one or more major ‘big-name’ stores which in turn attracted smaller stores

·      Combine shopping with leisure facilities such as cinemas, bowling, mini fun-fairs, and have a variety of cafes, restaurants bars and food courts

·      Are build close to housing areas from which thy can draw much of their staff

·      Expect to attract individuals and families for whole-day shopping and leisure, building on the fact that some people regard shopping as a leisure activity

However new planning laws now make it unlikely that any similar regional shopping centres will be built in the UK in the near future. They do cause problems:

·      They compete with local shopping centres, both in town and in suburban areas and have been blames, at least in part fro inner-city decline and urban blight

·      They contribute to the sprawl that afflicts many parts of the rural-urban fringe

·      They can cause severe congestion on the nearby motorways, often leading to long tailbacks on linked sections of the road network at peak periods

·      They can be seen as socially divisive. Town centres, with their public transport systems, are accessible to virtually everyone; the out-of-town centres can be difficult and expensive to get to for those without cars. Therefore, they can exclude the poor, the elderly, the under-17s who cannot drive or get lifts, single-parent families, and so on.


Location: West Midlands near Dudley. Roads such as M5, M6, M42 are all very close, therefore can get from anywhere to Merry Hill.

Key features:

·      Mall shops (185 shops e.g…


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