The Sustainable Communities Bill, which would give local communities a greater say over developments in their area, has passed its second parliamentary stage.
The Bill was approved 174-17 by MPs at its second reading in parliament. It still has some way to go before it becomes law, however, with opponents likely to turn out in greater numbers at a later stage.
MP Nick Hurd proposed the Bill to parliament as a Private Member's Bill and it is backed by the Local Works campaign. It will now go before a cross-party group of 16 MPs, who will settle on its exact details. It will then be presented to parliament a third time on April 20, 2007.
Local Works campaigner Matthew Sheen said: "We're very pleased with the result. To get a significant turnout for a Private Member's Bill on a Friday afternoon, when many MPs usually return to their constituencies, is a good sign of the support it has gained. It's also good to see cross-party support.
"There's still a lot of work to be done, though, and we will continue to put pressure on the government. Retailers and their customers can also help by writing to key MPs."
Association of Convenience Stores government relations manager Shane Brennan added: "There's still a lot more to do. This is an important parliamentary step, but there are still a lot of hurdles to get over. The important thing is that the issue of local shops is on the agenda in parliament."
l A group of MPs has called on parliament to debate the Barker Review of Land Use Planning, which this month proposed
the scrapping of the 'needs test' for proposed supermarket developments.
More than 40 MPs from across the political spectrum have added their signatures to an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling for an urgent debate on the proposals, which they feel "remove decision-making power from local people at a time when competition and choice in retail is concentrating into the control of a handful of large companies".
The EDM, proposed by Labour MP David Drew, also calls on MPs to urge Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to defend the needs test as a vital tool that allows local communities and local authorities to decide for themselves which proposed developments should be accepted.