80% of shops on high streets could be lost to “office block conversions”

Planning / Mon 2nd Aug 2021 at 02:59pm

NEW research from the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and University College London (UCL) reveals that 80% of shops and other commercial premises on highstreets across England could be lost because of further changes to planning rules.

Lively, useful and safe town centres and high streets are crucially important to the wellbeing of communities. They are the hearts of our towns and cities – they are where we go to socialise, buy groceries, or access important support services such as childcare. In recent years, though, high streets across England have been ravaged by the rise of online retailing and the impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic. In response, the government has made bold claims about ‘reinvigorating’ them, ‘levelling up’ ‘left-behind’ places, and ‘building beautiful’. But at the same time as making these claims it has actually stripped away councils’ ability to shape their local places, or ensure that new homes are fit to live in.

With little fanfare, the government has this week (1 August) changed planning rules in England so that the vast majority of shops and other commercial buildings, including restaurants, cafes, offices, gyms, nurseries, day centres and light industrial units, can be made into homes without planning permission.

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3 Comments for 80% of shops on high streets could be lost to “office block conversions”:

2021-08-02 16:49:34

Bet the champagne corks are a popping at Caridon.

2021-08-03 07:54:13

is it any wonder this is happening or could happen, previous labour council thought giant flowerpots was a good idea, little walk was torn down and not replaced and now looks like a jungle, severe lack of new resturants in the town centre, i rarely go into town these days, easier and more pleasent to drive to lakeside or bluewater.

tony edwards
2021-08-06 16:04:36

Minor point of accuracy the giant flower pots were installed - in 2011 when the Conservatives were last in power. ( they were a parting gift from Renaissance - the aim was to generate footfall in the North of the Town) The local authority own practically none of the buildings. They are all owned by developers Little Walk/Broad Walk etc etc. and they will only invest when it is in their interest to do so. There was a plan for an Australian Company to redevelop a huge swathe of the Town Centre in but this collapsed following the world wide financial crash in 2008/9 which was then followed by years of austerity. Harlow Council have worked hard to encourage investment and recently we have seen the announcements of some much needed Government funding, which incidentally was down to years of hard work by the last Labour administration and Council officers working with Robert Halfon who in his role as MP lobbied on the Town's behalf. It is a pity that the true story rarely gets a look in.

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