Planning system must protect local high streets, ACS says

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A general view of Stone High Street on July 30, 2020 in Stone, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said the government needs to protect the integrity of local high streets and access to essential services as it goes forward with planning system reforms.

In its submission to the House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee inquiry on the Government’s approach to permitted development rights (PDR), the ACS has called for the government to ensure that any changes of use should only be approved following careful and measured consideration of the impact on the economic health of the local area, the need to maintain an adequate provision of access to essential local services and the potential impact on the character of an area.

The inquiry was launched following recent reforms to broaden the Use Class Order to reflect the growth of mixed-use retail units and the government’s intentions to expand PDR from 1 August for retail units vacant for three months or longer to be converted into housing.

“Permitted development rights can play an important role in helping high streets and communities adapt to meet changing consumer demands but it is important that these changes are made on a measured and planned basis to prevent commercial to residential conversions from undermining the viability of neighbourhood parades and local access to groceries and essential services,” James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said.