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ACS urges gov to ensure new planning rules keep high street diversity

Tthe Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has urged the Government to ensure that new planning rules maintain the diversity and viability of high streets and town centres.

The Government has announced new rules which will make it easier to turn retail space into residential properties. The rules, which have just come into force, mean that instead of full planning permission, developers will go through what the Government is calling a ‘simpler prior approval process’ to turn retail space into residential.

In its submission to the MHCLG consultation earlier this year, ACS recognised the importance of flexibility within the planning system but outlined that any changes of use should only be approved following proper consideration of:

• the potential impact on the economic health of the retail centre
• the need to maintain an adequate provision of essential local services
• the potential impact on the local character of the area.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “We welcome the Government’s intention to revitalise high streets and other retail locations, which need to adapt to be able to grow.

'This adaptation includes more conversion of retail units into housing, but this must be underpinned by a robust process to avoid a free for all in conversions to residential use that would make high streets incoherent and less compelling places to shop, socialise, live and work.”