New retail developments normally require planning permission as ‘building’ operations within s 55(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. 1 No special procedures are specifically designed to limit or control retail developments, but decisions on applications for planning permission take place against a background of a wide range of central and local policies on development. However, it is not only at the stage of application that planning becomes relevant to the retail process; it has a bearing on the development of retailing outlets at a number of points. It is necessary to consider planning’s role under a number of headings: overall national policy, local policies, development control and appeals, and planning agreements. This chapter will be concerned with the first of these issues.