ACS calls for changes to planning laws to help improve town centres
As new figures show that 14.5% of shop premises in the UK are empty, the Association of Convenience Stores has called for improvements to planning laws to drive new investment into town centres.
The trade body said that although there is currently more than 40 million sq ft worth of new retail developments in the pipeline, 80% of this is planned for out of town locations.
As a result the ACS is calling for improvements to the Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework which is currently subject to public consultation and sets out ministers continued commitment to a ‘town centre first’ planning policy.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Vacancy rates on UK high streets are more than just a symptom of the recession. Towns up and down the country are crying out for new investment. This investment is necessary not to prop up but to reshape and modernise our existing centres.
“However the problem is that the millions of pounds that are being invested in retail are being invested in out of town supermarkets and retail parks.
“Unless we see urgent action our high streets will be lost to a final wave of out of town retail construction that threatens to remove retail from the heart of our communities. It will also dramatically scale down the opportunity for new and specialist shops that rely on the footfall of busy town centres to establish and open businesses.”
The ACS campaigns to support 33,500 local shops throughout the UK through lobbying and advising on legislation and issues that affect retailers.
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