19 February 2019

UK Franchise calls for high street reform in 2019

A UK franchise has made a plea to UK commercial landlords and planning departments to review and reform their planning policies to allow for a more diversified high street.

Mathnasium, a Maths tutoring franchise, claims its growth has been thwarted due to high street restrictions. Despite the demand from franchisees and students for Mathnasium centres across the country, the company has only secured eight high street locations due to delays with outdated planning permission and obstructive landlords.

With the latest reports painting a dismal view of the future of the UK high street, with 40,000 jobs this year alone affected by closures, Mathnasium is calling for change.

Local town planning departments up and down the country set their own planning policy, and Mathnasium argues many of which are archaic and out of touch with the needs of consumers. Many councils insist on a 95% retail business occupancy. This sometimes results in buildings lying empty for months on end whilst legitimate businesses like Mathnasium are refused change of use applications.

Steve Felmingham, UK director of operations at Mathnasium, comments: 'We know the Government is taking steps to address diversity on the high street with the update of its National Policy Planning Framework in July, but local authorities need to jump on this now. Unless action is taken, we are in danger of at best retaining a homogenous high street, or at worst no high street at all. By attracting a range of organisations, you encourage variety of services – this helps to drive interest, increase footfall and in turn secure further investment.

'Cambridge high street is one example of high street diversity, with its vibrancy reliant on a rich and varied mix of establishments in order to attract visitors. In a survey carried out by the Cambridge Independent, 54% of respondents said a range of shops determined where they shopped, which Cambridge offers.

'Despite the obvious appeal of high street diversity, planning restrictions are limiting the potential growth of non-retail businesses thanks to delays with outdated planning permission and obstructive landlords.'

Expert Peter Higginbottom, director at London based Planning Insight, Mathnasium’s planning partner, explains: 'It is becoming increasingly frustrating for clients trying to obtain high street premises. Many local planning authorities have very restrictive planning policies which seek to protect high streets but often do so through high thresholds for the retention of traditional retail uses.

'As such, many planning departments and landlords are refusing applications from other diverse businesses such as Mathnasium. This approach is often short sighted given that a number of retail units are empty for many months. Overly restrictive planning policies and a lack of flexibility by local authorities are only going to serve to drive the high street into greater decline. Those with flexible planning policies, will enable more diverse and successful high streets.'

At a time when the British high street faces its biggest threat of extinction, it’s vital for local planning departments to cease the opportunity to create diversity and harness the obvious appetite from many non-retail businesses to reinvigorate our towns and cities.

Skate parks are not the only fruit image

Skate parks are not the only fruit

On Go Skateboarding Day, Susannah Walker asks councils and their leisure and park departments to think differently about what facilities they provide for teenagers.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Fair Trading Officer

Northumberland County Council
£14,587 - £16,399
Northumberland County Council provides a large and diverse range of services across one of the largest counties in England. Northumberland
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Communications Support Assistant

Northumberland County Council
£19,650
Our people are the heart of Northumberland, which is why we place such importance on ensuring staff are engaged, informed and feel valued. Northumberland
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Senior Support Worker - Support at Home Service (South Cumbria)

Cumbria County Council
£25,927 - £26,446
The Support at Home Service provides both domiciliary and reablement services, as part of the wider Provider Services Team. Cumbria
Recuriter: Cumbria County Council

Head of Service - Children in Care

Sandwell Children's Trust
£65,831 - £75,240
You will have strategic and overall responsibility for ensuring that assessments and plans for children in care and care leavers. Sandwell, West Midlands (Hybrid Working)
Recuriter: Sandwell Children's Trust

Performance Assistant -Focus Family Team

Cumbria County Council
£28,226 - £29,174
We are looking for an experienced, enthusiastic, and driven Performance Assistant within our Focus Family Team. Cumbria
Recuriter: Cumbria County Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.