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  6. Mixed response from planners to Portas retail report

Mixed response from planners to Portas retail report

Planners have welcomed the publication of the final report from shopping guru Mary Portas who was commissioned by the Government to review the future of the High Street.

However, the Planning Officers Society (POS) has argued that most of the planning initiatives and new powers recommended by the report are unnecessary.

The report proposed that the Communities Secretary should have “exceptional sign off" for all new out-of-town developments and require all large new developments to have an "affordable shops" quota.

POS spokesman John Silvester said: "The Secretary of State already has intervention powers if they choose to use them; what would be wrong, in my view, is a blanket approach to requiring the SoS to determine all such proposals. Such powers need to be used as and when appropriate."

The report also said that a presumption in favour of town centre development “should be explicit” in the wording of the National Planning Policy Framework.

The POS has also queried the report’s recommendation for changes to the Use Classes regime to make it easier to establish new retail floor space. John Silvester said a major upheaval of the use classes system wasn’t warranted at present.

However, the Society does back the report’s proposal to put betting shops in a Use Class category of their own.

The Portas review also recommended that local authorities should make more proactive use of Compulsory Purchase Order powers to encourage the redevelopment of key high street retail space.

Read the Planning Officers Society news release.

Roger Milne

15 December 2011