Joanna Ellis

Associate

Commercial Property


Planning reforms aim to reduce number of empty retail units

Joanna Ellis

The government has announced this week they plan to cut red tape and relax the ‘change of class’ planning law that will allow shops and restaurants to ‘pop up’ and aim to reduce the number of empty retail units on our high streets.

Shops and restaurants that are under 150 sq metres will be able to open in existing commercial space without obtaining planning permission.

A report this week from the Centre for Retail Research has claimed that more than 60,000 shops (one in five) across the country will close over the next five years. These new measures are aimed at regenerating high streets throughout the country but there has been opposing arguments that they will weaken the local council and community’s ability to shape their own high streets.

The new law will apply for two years and it is expected that empty units will be used as pop up shops and marketing initiatives to launch new products and venues. It is, however, feared by some that it will be an opportunity for pay day lenders and betting shops to open more easily, as they will not have to face a public consultation.

With Nottingham in particular having a very high rate of empty retail units, it will be interesting to see what happens over the coming year.

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