Retailers large and small have come out in opposition to the community ‘right to buy’ aspect of the government’s Localism Bill, it was revealed today.
A public consultation is currently taking place for the proposed legislation and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has now published its response to it, which highlights several issues of concern for its members.
The industry representative group argues that allowing community groups first option on any property up for sale in their area will damage retail businesses of all sizes.
Giving community groups the time to compile a business plan and propose a bid on any commercial property it lists as having ‘community asset’ status before potentially better suited private investors, will just add an extra layer of bureaucracy to the planning process according to the BRC.
Tom Ironside, BRC Director of Business and Regulation, said: “At a time when the government is rightly putting growth and job creation at the top of its agenda and recognising retail’s key role in achieving that, it must give businesses the certainty they need to make investment decisions.
“‘Right to Buy’ will only work if local needs and decision-makers operate within a sensible national framework so retailers small and large can buy and sell efficiently.”
The BRC has asked for more clarity as to which properties qualify as community assets and that undeveloped land and buildings with only potential future community value should be excluded.
Meanwhile the Association of Convenience Store (ACS) argues that leasehold assets and mixed commercial/residential properties should be excluded and that a building’s community asset status should be proved before being granted.
“We are calling for a series of specific improvements to the proposals that will reduce their potential harm on business,”argued James Lowman, CEO of the ACS.
“Our concern is not to prevent the ability of communities to develop bids, but to ensure that the only assets subject to serious proposals for community ownership are listed.”