Government 'will protect nation's high streets'

The Government has signalled its intention to protect high streets from the impact of big out-of-town developments, the Association of Convenience Stores believes.

Speaking during a committee session for the Localism Bill, communities minister Greg Clark commended the ACS for its “important work on this issue” and told MPs that the forthcoming National Planning Policy Framework would help the survival of traditional shopping areas.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are delighted by this breakthrough for the high streets campaign. This is the first time ministers have given explicit reassurance that they will retain strict protections for town, neighbourhood and village centres in national planning policy.

“The minister has said that reform will clarify and strengthen the policy and we look forward to working with him to ensure that this is the case.

“However, we will continue to press for a change in the law as we strongly believe this is the only sure way to increase the resolve of councils that fear the legal resources of big developers. Without these clauses there is a still a risk of plans for big out-of-town stores being forced through, which would have a devastating effect on the long term prospects for our high streets.”

In the coming weeks, the ACS will be calling on retailers to get behind the growing campaign by writing to their MP asking them to sign up to an early day motion backing the call for a new law on sustainable high streets.