A government initiative to help community organisations engage with the planning system has been cautiously welcomed by the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) today.
It was confirmed yesterday by the Department for Communities and Local Government that £3 million would be made available to local people to help them create community-based groups to offer advice and assist developers during consultation periods.
BCSC has warned however that the proposals should not encourage nimbyism which could stifle economic growth at a time when the UK’s finances are being stretched.
Edward Cooke, Executive Director of BCSC, commented: “We remain supportive of the government’s overall commitment to the principle of localism which should encourage communities - helped by this funding - attract investment and development.
“However, we must acknowledge that it could also facilitate an increase in opposition to new development.”
Provisions in the new Localism Bill also came under scrutiny from BCSC when it was unveiled last month, with Cooke warning that decentralised planning decisions could lead to regional inconsistency and increase red-tape for large developments like shopping centres.
The coalition government is attempting to juggle the twin ambitions of inspiring business growth and devolving more power to communities as part of what David Cameron calls the Big Society.
Cooke added that an increase in nimbyism could delay or prohibit future retail development and that this “would be particularly damaging given government’s stated ambition to see a private sector-led economic recovery”.
“It is our view that the retail property industry has an important role to play in delivering new development and driving the economic growth of our town and city centres.”