MP questions whether new Government powers could impact on retailers in Fenland

PUBLISHED: 12:12 10 August 2009 | UPDATED: 09:11 02 June 2010

MALCOLM Moss, MP for North East Cambridgeshire, has criticised a move by the Government to reduce the powers of local councils to control out-of-town retail development. A new report from a cross-party House of Commons Committee has warned that the Govern

MALCOLM Moss, MP for North East Cambridgeshire, has criticised a move by the Government to reduce the powers of local councils to control out-of-town retail development.

A new report from a cross-party House of Commons Committee has warned that the Government's proposed changes to planning rules on retail development will result in "many more out-of-town superstores".

This comes as a separate nationwide survey by the British Retail Consortium has found that 1 in 10 of all town centre shops is now vacant.

Mr Moss said the new regime will scrap the 'needs test', which requires developers to prove the need for additional out-of-town development.

He said the Government consultation exercise found that the changes would "lead to more edge-of and out-of-centre development" and "undermine regeneration schemes by allowing development outside town centres".

Mr Moss added that on top of this, a committee of MPs has now warned that the changes will lead to "unnecessary risks" to town centres.

"Labour's rewriting of the rules that protect against excessive out-of-town retail development threatens to undermine the vitality of local high streets," he said.

"Councils need the discretion and power to halt reckless out-of-town expansion and promote town centre regeneration.

"At a time when there is a record low number of high street shops in March, Wisbech and Whittlesey, I am concerned that Gordon Brown's plans are going to hit small retailers hard.

"We must also not forget the environmental implications these changes will have. The Government must start to take the plight of local businesses seriously, instead of introducing planning rules which favour the big supermarket chains.


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