From the Grocer
With two thirds of all newbuild activity driven by the supermarkets, the government’s response to Portas’ call was to “continue to use sparingly” a rule that has seen just one out-of-town development rejected since 2008.
Ministers have been heavily infuenced by the economic arguments in favour of reducing restrictions rather than piling more on, with LSE research last year claiming restrictive planning policies had reduced productivity in the retail sector by 20%, leading to high prices that particularly hit the poorest households. Supermarkets were smaller than they would otherwise be, there was less competition and planning applications dragged on for years, it found.
“A lot of retailers were up in arms about the plans for secretary of state sign-off , which would have brought another heap of red tape ,” said another lawyer working on planning on behalf of one of the big four. The CEO of one organisation closely involved in talks over Portas and the NPPF adds: “The vast majority of planning consent in the pipeline is from the big four and the government has shown it is simply not prepared to challenge them. It’s a massive cop out,” she [liz] adds.
“If you speak to anyone in the planning business, everyone bar none says the whole Portas process will prove to have been absolutely worthless.”
However, construction and planning experts say that while the week’s developments could have worked out much worse for the big supermarkets, they are far from a green light for unhindered expansion. “The NPPF is clearly seeking to direct new commercial investments towards revitalising the nation’s town centres and we believe the tough sequential approach definitely means there are more barriers to out of town,” says Allan Wilen, economics director at analysts Glenigan