Communities will be given more powers to take over threatened shops and shape local development under the government’s long-awaited Localism Bill.

Published today, the Bill includes measures for neighborhood plans, which will enable communities to grant planning permission with a majority approval, and a new right to bid to buy local assets such as libraries, pubs and shops.

But the Association of Convenience Stores has urged ministers to ensure that reform of planning powers does not undermine the viability of high streets.

It welcomed the government’s aim to make it easier for communities to revive services such as the local shop, but warned that the removal of national planning rules regulating retail development could threaten the sustainability of the High Street.

James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said: “Strong and consistent planning law is vital to ensuring diverse retail provision is part of sustainable communities. 

“We need strong rules that keep retail development in our neighbourhoods, town centres and high streets; poorly planned out-of-centre retail developments are the main threat to the sustainability of local shops close to where people live. We need this now more than ever, with 12,000 fewer shops on our high streets, this year compared to last.”

The Localism Bill will also give local authorities a General Power of Competence, allowing them to take any action providing it is lawful.

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