Properly planned space is the only way forward

Leadership organisation Sustain Worldwide and its partner TFT has welcomed the government’s overhaul of the planning laws which ministers believe will cut red tape, speed up decision making and promote enterprise and innovation.

“There have been concerns in the press recently over certain types of retail outlet proliferating in the high street as a result of the relaxation of planning leading to unwelcome clusters as an unintended consequence” says TFT Partner Mat Lown. “This misses the point and the much bigger opportunity that awaits, which is providing properly planned spaces that people want, will visit and therefore will become sustainable in the long term.

“Engagement with the local community and other stakeholders will be crucial but it will also need a coordinated approach by those with the vision and the will to create thriving communities around the high street. Local authorities will play their part but also property investors and developers together with their advisors such as TFT will have a key role to play in ensuring the high street remains, and in some cases returns to being a viable centre of both commerce and community.

“So we could see redundant office space being converted to residential accommodation as a result of the planning changes, bringing custom and vitality back to central areas. We have a fantastic opportunity of improving the energy performance of buildings ahead of the Energy Act which will potentially make large swathes of commercial buildings obsolete and further decimate the beleaguered high street.”

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