Neighbourhood planning is one of a number of initiatives highlighted by a new report from the Department for Communities and Local Government which sets out measures for transforming run-down shopping streets into decent areas.
New research shows that local shopping parades – traditionally a neighbourhood preserve of convenience shops, greengrocers, newsagents and cafés – are crucial to the economy. The research also indicates that micro-businesses hire on average less than ten employees each, but still account for over half a million local jobs across England. In other words, encouraging micro-businesses creates jobs.
The new guide, ‘Parades to be Proud of: Strategies to support local shops’, sets out ‘a shopping list for success’ for village or neighbourhood communities and shop owners to think about to rejuvenate their local shopping parades.
As well as recommending making the areas safer, more secure and graffiti-free the report stressed that planning initiatives could play a major role.
These include deploying ‘meanwhile leases’ to allow for the temporary use of empty properties. Also recommended for consideration is the use of Local Development Orders (LDOs) to tighten the change of use regime or make it easier for streets to respond more flexibly to changing needs.
The guide pointed out that local parades could participate in Neighbourhood Planning Forums which give communities control over how their areas develop. These could be drawn up to make sure that local shops are factored into future development.