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High Street revival needs more help

29 November, 2011
Page 8 

Four out of five MPs support giving communities greater powers to use the planning system to stop their high streets becoming 'clone towns'.

These findings were revealed by the Association of Convenience Stores, as it set out a three-point plan to revive high streets at its Heart of the Community conference in Westminster.

As well as new powers for communities to prevent their town and neighbourhood centres losing their identity, the ACS has called for a halt to proposed business rate increases and stronger rules preventing out-of-town retail development.

ACS chief executive James Lowman told retailers and MPs: "Government must go further if it wants to achieve their ambition for localism to drive growth and encourage business to invest in our flagging high streets."

The three-point plan calls for government to drive millions of pounds of investment back into high streets by: implementing new planning powers for communities to designate retail mix on their high streets; stopping the 5.6% hike in business rates planned for April 2012; and toughening 'town centre first' rules in draft National Planning Policy.