News that a coalition of retailers, landlords, councils and pubs have joined together to call for planning law reform so that abandoned shops can be turned into cafes, galleries and gyms and other businesses, has also received support by lawyers at national law firm, Irwin Mitchell.
According to figures reported, 100,000 jobs have disappeared from the high street over the past three years and 1,800 shop branches were closed in towns and cities last year alone. Empty units in the middle of towns and villages are often hard to let because of the expense and difficulty of getting permission for change of use. It can take two months at least.
The Federation of Small Businesses stated: “Traditional shop uses have become increasingly blurred as coffee shops also become mini libraries and independent gyms house coffee shops. Although businesses have adapted to challenges, planning laws have not. Planning conditions seek to regulate every type of floor space, from sale space to a gym floor. These strict regulations and planning conditions drastically reduce businesses flexibility and adaptability, reducing their ability to complete.”
Carl Dyer, head of planning at Irwin Mitchell agrees: “Reforming planning restrictions is a great idea and one which can be quite easily addressed: you simply need to simplify the Use Classes Order and the General Permitted Development Order.”