Throughout the past two years you may have heard me talk quite a few times about the importance of planning policy. I am very aware that despite my best efforts it can seem impenetrable and complex. It is for this reason that I am delighted we have published our guide, Planning for Diverse Local Centres, which attempts to explain and simplify the new planning regime. It focuses on the things you need to know and what you can do.
The first thing to understand is that councils DO have the tools to support local retailers, to build long-term plans based on promoting diversity, vitality and character in their large and small centres. However, we cannot assume that they will use the powers they have. That is where local retailers come in – you can have your say at every stage of the process. The earlier you get involved, the more influential you can be.
The key part of the process is the local plan, which will define what type of development can happen and where. You have the opportunity to shape these plans, and to work with other retailers, your customers and other parts of the community to set out a positive vision for your local area. Quite simply, if a site is identified for development in the plan, it will be very difficult to stop. If it’s not in the plan, it will be very hard to get planning permission.
We have fought long and hard to safeguard crucial national rules that give councils the power to decide where supermarkets can and should be built. Also we campaigned to ensure that national government and local councils see it as their responsibility to promote diversity in retail, and where necessary to resist harmful, unwanted or unnecessary multiples. Now we have to work together to make that happen on the ground.
Please take the time to download or read the guide which is available at www.acs.org.uk/planningguide, or call the office on 01252 515001 and we can post you one. It’s the first step towards taking back some control over the place where you live and trade.