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‘Retail-to-resi conversions could breathe life into high streets,’ says BPF

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The British Property Federation (BPF) has backed government plans to allow shops to be converted into homes

The property trade body has also recommended, to ensure the effectiveness of the proposed changes to the permitted development rules, local authorities should designate areas and create zoning plans.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the BPF, said: ‘We are fully behind the provision of greater local-authority flexibility to re-class redundant shops for development into desperately needed homes.

‘Other retail conversions that might regenerate town centres by encouraging high street footfall would be a welcome breath of life for both the property industry and local communities.

She added: ‘Recent high-profile reviews from Mary Portas and Bill Grimsey have energised industry consensus that retail-led high streets are no longer viable for the long-term, and that broader ‘community hubs’ may be the future of high street regeneration. As such, should this change-of-use initiative prove successful we would encourage the government to consider proposals to redevelop retail units for leisure and community uses.’

But the London Assembly disagrees, claiming the mooted changes would not stimulate local high streets. They have called on Mayor Boris Johnson to reject the proposed plans, warning the move could ‘drive up rents for business, damage the high street, and undermine the principle of localism.’

The proposed planning shake-up, which is currently at public consultation stage, would allow existing shops and agricultural buildings less than 150m² to be converted to residential use without the requirement for planning permission.

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