Retailers have welcomed ministers’ reassurances over the future of the High Street following a key parliamentary debate on Tuesday.

A proposed amendment to the Localism Bill, which would hand back control over retail development decision to communities, was the subject of extensive debate in the House of Commons and received widespread support. Although it was defeated by the government in a vote, planning minister Greg Clark pledged his allegiance to town centre first planning policy. 

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) welcomed the minister’s comments and the prominence afforded to the Retail Diversity Scheme amendment. ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan told C-Store: “We’re pleased the amendment was the main thing debated, and the fact it went to a vote shows how much coverage it received.” Of 300 amendments to a Bill, only three or four are usually voted on in the Commons.

The vote was defeated by 308 votes against 224, but Mr Clark said town centres would be adequately protected in forthcoming changes to the national planning policy framework. 

“We now expect ministers to deliver,” Brennan said. “But we still believe it should be primary legislation and will continue to fight for it. However, yesterday’s events have given strong momentum to the High Streets campaign.”