The London Mayor should change his policies to give councils more ways to protect local shops from big retail developments, according to the London Assembly.
In its Cornered shops:Small shops and the planning system report, out today, the London Assembly charts the decline of local shops and calls for changes to the planning system to protect them.
It suggests giving boroughs more power to resist or negotiate planning applications from big retailers.
It advises the Government to amend the Use Classes Order to give local authorities the “power to stop essential shops changing to outlets like internet cafes and betting shops without planning permission”.
And it calls for guidance for local authorities to create a ‘town centre rejuvenation’ fund, funded in part from large retail developments.
The report finds that, along with the economic downturn, “the rise of the big supermarkets and their move into ‘local format’ stores has contributed to the loss of smaller retailers”.
The London Assembly’s Planning and Housing Committee deputy chair Jenny Jones said: “People in residential areas need local shops that provide essential services that they can walk to. They do not need rows of betting shops and internet cafes, or to have to travel to supermarkets by car.
“The Mayor must lead on changing the planning system to empower boroughs to take back control of their high streets and protect local shops from further decline.”
British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace said: “The industry is committed to helping the government effectively deliver its localism agenda and we have always been very supportive of ensuring a mix of fascias on the high street.
“Allowing councils to dictate the mix of their central retail offering seems a very sensible way of ensuring communities can have the right mix local shops.”
“But we need to be realistic in that a new planning class won’t save unviable businesses. If locals really want to use their local shops and they provide good service and sell the right products, they will survive. A big part of that is making sure we don’t continue to pile tax burdens onto landlords and retailers at a time when many are already struggling.”