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    Food for thought....?...Our High Street does strangle beyond sustainability...........

    Courtesy Guardian...............

    Councils to lose powers over high street planning under government proposal

    Minister to suggest allowing shops to be converted into homes without planning permission

    Boarded-up shops in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

    Town halls face losing significant powers over the future of their high streets under Whitehall plans to

    allow shops to be converted into homes without planning permission.

    In a move that signifies the widening acceptance that changing shopping habits and the economic

    downturn have sent the British high street into rapid retreat, the planning minister, Nick Boles, will

    this week propose scrapping existing rules protecting shop units, including banks and building societies,

    and allowing them to become housing.

    He wants owners to have "permitted development rights" to make the transformation, in the same

    way that the government has allowed residents to build extensions of up to eight metres without

    applying for planning permission.

    Local authorities will be asked to decide which shops should be considered "prime retail frontage"

    while the rest could be scrapped. There are around 7,000 empty shops in London alone and last

    year one senior retailer, Phil Wrigley, chairman of Majestic wine, admitted the high street was in

    "a death spiral".

    Boles said: "People's shopping habits are changing very fast as a result of the rise in internet

    shopping and changes in lifestyles and working patterns. We need to think creatively about how

    to help town centres thrive in this new era. We want to encourage local councils to concentrate

    retail activity into the prime shopping streets in the heart of their town centres and adopt a more

    relaxed approach to under-used retail frontages." - See more at:

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