Plans to turn shops into homes will 'destroy high street'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Development, Local Government
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Plans to allow empty shops to be turned into housing will "destroy the high street', the government has been warned.
Camden Council says that 'change of use' planning rules that are currently being consulted on by the coalition could lead to local shops and high streets being lost.
The proposed changes would give the owner of a shop, not a council planning committee, the right to decide if the building should be turned into a house or up to four flats.
And alterations to the front of the building and the windows could all go ahead as 'permitted development' without the need to involve a planning committee.
Cllr Valerie Leach, cabinet member for regeneration and growth, said: “Simply put, these proposals if introduced could lead to the death of the traditional high street and corner shop
“While we sympathise with shop owners whose premises are empty, or whose businesses are struggling in these tough economic times, a building’s change of use and conversion needs to be well thought out.
“Generally Camden has a low number of vacant shops compared to the rest of the UK. In 2011 7.5% of its shops were listed as vacant, whereas across the UK the number was 14.5%. In 2012 in Camden this number had risen by just .2 per cent on the year before.
“Although vacancy levels in Camden are relatively low, in some parts of the borough local business and community associations are tackling vacancies with "pop-up" community uses and for the benefit of local small businesses.
“The proposed changes would undermine positive local initiatives like these and mean the local shops as well high street shops could be lost.
“It would leave the way open for poorly thought out flats which could be to the detriment of local communities and without those affected having had the chance to put forward their views as part of the planning process. Whatever happened to localism?”