Wedge were pleased to read that the government have published their policy on national planning for consultation this week. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) focuses on promoting town centres, rather than out-of-town developments, which will be deemed as a last resort and will require impact assessments and further restrictions.
The aim of this policy framework is to promote diversity in retail through local authorities favouring town centre retail applications. However, there is a suggestion that the message could become open to interpretation by developers who could still successfully damage town centres.
This NPPF coincides with the launch of Labour’s campaign to save the high street, which is centred around a four-point plan:
- Temporarily cut VAT from 20% to 17.5% - this will help retailers and each family would save around £450.
- Give communities and local retailers a voice over retail plans by implementing a ‘retail diversity planning cause’.
- Ensure a mixture of small and large shops on high streets by creating a ‘competition test’ within the planning system.
- Allow the council to use empty shops for cultural, community or learning services – the Labour ‘empty shop initiative’.
It will be interesting to see further developments and the feedback to the NPPF and also how Labour’s campaign takes shape.
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