Concern raised by Beverley & Holderness MP over Government threat to local high streets and shops
Government to weaken powers of East Riding Council to control out-of-town development
MP Graham Stuart, today criticised the Government’s proposed changes to planning rules, which will reduce the powers of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council to control out-of-town retail development.
A new report from a cross-party House of Commons Committee has warned that the Government’s proposed changes to planning rules on retail development will result in “many more out-of-town superstores”. This comes as a separate nationwide survey by the British Retail Consortium has found that 1 in 10 of all town centre shops are now vacant.
The Government’s changes come in the form of new national planning rules on retail development. East Riding Council will have to observe the rules when assessing planning applications. The new regime will scrap the ‘needs test’, which requires developers to prove the ‘need’ for additional out-of-town development. The changes are driven by Gordon Brown.
The small print of the Government’s proposals, published last year, shows the changes would:
• “Lead to some overall increase in [out-of-town] development, which could have environmental implications”.
• “More [out-of-town] development proposals coming forward through the planning process”.
• “Additional unplanned proposals outside town centres”.
The Government consultation exercise found that the changes would “lead to more edge-of and out-of-centre development” and “undermine regeneration schemes by allowing development outside town centres”. On top of this, a Committee of MPs has now warned that the changes will lead to “unnecessary risks to town centres”.
“The Government’s rewriting of the rules which protect against excessive out-of-town retail development threatens to undermine the vitality of local high streets. Councils need the discretion and power to halt reckless out-of-town expansion and promote town centre regeneration.
“At a time when we have a record number of empty shops on our high streets, I am concerned that these plans will hit small retailers and worsen the problem of ghost town Britain.”
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