Local authorities are being urged to ensure that independent retailers have the opportunity to serve their communities.
In a survey of 177 local resident and community organisations around the country, community charity Urban Forum revealed that 80% of people have to travel outside of their local area to meet their basic shopping needs.
The survey also showed that 40% of respondents said their local Post Office had closed down or was under threat of closure.
The report said: “The disappearance of Post Offices and independent retailers from the local high is worrying as shops and services are not only essential to meet people’s everyday needs but play an important role as places where people can meet and interact.”
Urban Forum called upon local authorities to use the Local Development Framework and the Sustainable Community Strategy to ensure that there are enough shops to meet community needs.
It also suggested that business rates be weighted in the favour of smaller, independent shops in order to help them survive and that competition issues between supermarkets and independent retailers should be addressed as soon as possible.
The report also called for community groups to have more say when it comes to planning decisions. It said: “Community groups continue to engage with the planning system in a reactive way and at a late stage, most commonly by opposing planning applications, and after many decisions have already been taken. This left many feeling that they were not able to influence the decisions made.”
Urban Forum works to help communities have a greater say over decisions that affect them, particularly in the areas of regeneration, planning and business diversity.