Trade groups plead for out-of-town revisions

Three trade bodies have stepped up the pressure on the Government to relax restrictions on out-of-town development under the new PPS6 planning guidance.

Accessible Retail, the Shopping Park Investors Forum and the British Property Federation joined forces to make the case for more out-of-town space.

The trio plans a pincer movement on policymakers, lobbying the Treasury and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. To bolster their case, they have commissioned research from Experian and MORI to show that out-of-town retail is a key driver for increased efficiency in the retail economy.

In a letter to Gordon Brown and John Prescott, the organisations called on the draft PPS6 to be amended to allow mezzanines as a way of letting retailers expand out-of-town without increasing pressure on the few available sites.

The letter also calls on the Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister to make it easier for landlords to extend existing parks to keep pace with changing patterns of retailer demand, so total floorspace grows in line with the sector's share of the retail market.

The research challenges the myth that out-of-town development is sucking trade from the high street. Although 70 million sq ft (6.5 million sq m) of out-of-town space has been built in the past 10 years, high street sales declined by only 2 per cent. Sales densities have grown faster on the high street.