An analysis by the District Councils’ Network (DCN) shows that the number of applications by retailers to England’s district councils have nearly halved in the past four years, contributing to the high street crisis.
image: Fiona Newton
Planning Portal writes:
The number of applications by retailers to England’s district councils have nearly halved in the past four years, contributing to the high street crisis.
An analysis by the District Councils’ Network (DCN) reveals that members received 1,258 applications in the year ending June 2019, down from 2,216 since June 2015.
The DCN, which represents 191 district councils, says the figures show that high streets are in a state of ‘emergency’.
The analysis of government figures for England also shows that planning applications for new housing have slumped to a four-year low.
District councils received 31,073 applications for new homes in 2019 – the lowest since 2015.
DCN says the figures reflect the ongoing economic uncertainty and falling confidence from developers in the housing market.
It is calling on the government to give all districts the long-term funding they need to revive high streets, and to give them flexibility to raise finance locally, for instance, to set business rates relief.
Districts also want the government to guarantee the continuation of the New Homes Bonus to ensure that councils have the funding to deliver services and attract the new investment critical to thriving communities.
‘These figures paint a worrying picture about the future of our high streets and town centres, and highlight the uphill battle we face tackling the housing crisis,’ said DCN leader for stronger economics Mark Crane.
‘There are huge opportunities to reshape places into thriving community, cultural and employment hubs – by investing in new housing, infrastructure, services and events.
‘However, district councils, which are responsible for delivering housing and improving high streets, need the funding certainty and powers to transform town centres, to attract investment into infrastructure, and to build new homes.
‘While there is a growing amount of energy and schemes invested in tackling these issues from Whitehall, the national complexity and focus on short-term results risks underutilising the ambitions of district councils to deliver change over the long term.’
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