Scrapping restrictions could help shops and new businesses
The Government wants to scrap some planning restrictions to encourage more start-up businesses and attract shoppers back into town centres.
Ministers want to make it easier for new ‘pop-up’ shops to use vacant high street premises until a more permanent tenant can be found. Under the current system, there are planning rules that restrict the kinds of business that can use high street shop units.
A Government statement says: “The proposals would scale back the red tape that causes shop owners costly delays securing planning permission, over £1,200 on average, before a disused shop can be used for a different purpose.
“Landlords would instead be free to temporarily change the use of an empty shop for two years, something currently not automatically permitted.”
The changes are designed to halt the decline taking place in city centres across the country. It’s estimated that the number of shoppers visiting high streets has dropped by 2% since last year. The high street vacancy rate is 11%.
It’s hoped that deregulation will help reinvigorate city centres by opening up more affordable places for people to launch new businesses.
The Government has committed more than £80m to provide start-up loans for young entrepreneurs, which could create over 30,000 new enterprises.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "Leaving empty shops to rot is a wasted economic opportunity that spoils the town centre - that is why we are proposing to scrap the damaging red tape that is keeping so many boarded up. This change can unleash our young entrepreneurs to open pop-up shops and turn the high streets into an exciting start-up launch pad.”
Ministers are now carrying out a public consultation on the proposals.