Laura Sharman 17 January 2020

Think tank warns red tape is ‘strangling’ the high street

National planning guidelines and local plans are failing to revitalise the high street, a new report by a think tank has warned.

The paper, published by the Adam Smith Institute, argues national planning guidelines have hindered the high street by encouraging monopolistic ownership by national landlords and limiting missed-use spaces.

It goes on to add that local plans have also failed to help boost the high street as they are often out of date before they are even adopted due to the bureaucratic nature of local authorities.

The paper calls on the Government to remove the requirement to set strict areas of shopping activity, simplify or abolish the examination process for local plans, encourage mixed-use developments, and allow short-term plans to complement or replace long-term plans.

Thomas Walker, author of the report, said: ‘Everybody knows Britain's high streets are struggling. In order for that to change we need a new approach to planning policy that gives our town centres the flexibility to react and adapt to rapidly changing economic conditions and consumer needs.

‘We need to move away from the old idea of dedicated retail zones and embrace a more dynamic, mixed-use approach to make our town centres prosperous and create a safe and active environment for residents, workers and visitors.’

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