Saturday, 15 June 2013

Supporting our High Street

I am opposed to the Government changes which deny communities the right to shape their high streets and stop payday lending and betting shops taking over.

On 9th May 2013 the Government laid before Parliament The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013. It came into force on 30th May 2013 and changed the rules on high street planning without any parliamentary debate.

The new rules mean that a number of types of business will no longer have to apply for permission to convert a building for a new business use. This will make it easier for payday lenders, betting shops, fast food restaurants and the other businesses to continue their sprawl along the high streets and will make it harder for councils and communities to have a say in the future of their town centres.

This is the opposite of what our high streets need. Nationally there are 20% more payday loan shops than a year ago and 3.3% more betting shops[1]. These are taking the place of independent retailers, clothes shops and health food shops[2].

Labour wants to give new powers to councils and local people to support their high streets, by allowing councils to encourage the types of businesses they want to see whilst cutting down on the spread of others like payday lenders.

Our town centre should be at the heart of our community but too many shops in our market towns are lying empty or being forced out by more and more payday lenders and betting shops.

I want to see real powers given to local people to stand up for their high street and ensure that it is somewhere that they and their neighbours want to shop and spend time.

The fact that the Government is doing the opposite of what Labour has been calling for by denying, rather than strengthening, the right of local people to have say in the future of their high streets is simply shocking.”