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News - 11 July 2008

PPS6 - Government to protect small shops

The protection of city centres is at the heart of the Government’s new planning proposal. The revised PPS6 consultation seeks to put small shops first and to protect the character of our towns and cities. This has to be good news for Brighton.

Commenting on the proposed new planning rules David Lepper, Brighton MP said, “Labour policies such as Business Improvement Districts have already helped many town centres to revive. But as the All Party Small Shops Group Report, which I helped to produce two years ago, showed there were continuing threats to town and city centres even before the current economic problems.

“These revised planning rules keep the important ‘sequential test’ that requires the most central town centre sites to be developed first.

“And there is to be a new tougher 'impact test' which will help prevent big developments that put small shops and town centres at risk. Using this test, councils will now examine more factors including retail diversity, consumer spending, loss of trade, impact on town centre investment, scope for regeneration and job creation to ensure the vibrancy of town centres and high streets is protected against harmful development.”

The revised PPS6 consultation proposes to:

  • Reinforce the policy of “town centres first”.
  • Ensure that the planning system promotes the vitality, viability and the unique character of town centres.
  • Require local authorities to proactively plan their town centres and plan for sustainable economic growth through policies that are responsive to economic change.
  • Promote consumer choice and retail diversity and recognises that the planning system can help to support small shops and the identity of town centres.
  • Keep the important ‘sequential test’ that requires developers to seek the most central sites first.
  • Remove the dysfunctional 'needs test' which can unintentionally stifle diversity and consumer choice in town. In some cases new small shops were ruled out because out of town developments, such as big supermarkets, already provided that function.
  • Create a new tougher 'impact test' that assesses economic, social and environmental criteria so councils can better assess the impacts on the town centre. It tests whether impact is positive or negative on town centre consumer choice and retail diversity; investment and town centre trade and gives councils powers to cap the size of big retail developments where this is justified.
  • Test the design quality of development.
  • Consider the wider benefits to communities, but ensures that the size of development is not out of scale with a town centre.
  • Ensure development is accessible by a range of transport modes.
  • Encourages cleaner safer, greener town centre environments and introduces sustainable development as an impact issue.
  • Encourage investment in disadvantaged areas creating new employment opportunities.
  • Make clear that where negative impacts on the town centre are significant this will normally justify a refusal of planning permission.

The consultation will end on 3 October. A final revised planning policy statement is expected to be published in early 2009, together with supporting practice guidance.

Read related items on:
Retail, pubs, clubs and restaurants
Built environment
Government, Central
Lepper, David

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