New planning guidelines could make it easier for retailers to extend out of town sites, says the Royal Town Planning Institute.
Government draft guidelines propose that retailers planning extensions to out of town sites will no longer have to undergo the sequential test, which asks whether the space could be built in a town centre instead.
Councils should also take into account retailers’ genuine difficulties in operating their business models in town centres, say the new guidelines. Martin Willey, who chairs the RTPI regeneration network, said the new rules “dilute what has been a very clearly understood policy”. If the draft went through in its current form, he added, “it could undermine the planning policy of the last 50 years”.
Although retailers would no longer be subject to a sequential test for extensions, said the British Retail Consortium, they would still have to demonstrate a need to planning authorities.