The Coalition has accepted virtually all the recommendations put forward by Mary Portas last December from her High Street Review and put in place a new support package to further boost the High Street.
Ministers, however, have decided not to support her proposal that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government should have an “exceptional sign off” for all new out-of-town developments or the requirement that all large new developments should have an “affordable shops” quota.
The Government argued that such ministerial intervention was unnecessary in the light of the new emphasis on local responsibility and community decision-making. ”We will continue to use the call-in power sparingly,” said the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
The Government said it supported affordability but argued that to require an “affordability quota” in every large development would “increase” the adverse impact of that development on town centres.
The administration has also signalled that the review’s calls for changes to the Use Class system to make change of use easier and to create a separate use class for betting shops will be considered as part of DCLG’s ongoing assessment of the whole use classes regime. The department said it would be consulting on its latest thinking shortly.
In addition, the Government has decided that to encourage more people to live in town centres, planning permission will not be required in the case of up to two flat conversions in the space above shops. At present the regulations only allow one flat as permitted development.
At the same as publishing its formal response to the Portas Review the Government has announced a number of initiatives.
Housing and Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said a new package of help had been agreed to help High Streets and town centres.
The measures included:
The Minister said: "Mary Portas's review made crystal clear the stark challenge our high streets face. With internet shopping and out-of-town centres here to stay, they must offer something new if they are to entice visitors back.
"Her report has provided the catalyst for change that many towns have been craving. I now want to see people coming together to form their own town teams and turning their creative ideas into reality to ensure their high streets thrive long into the future."
4 April 2012