§ Mr. Barry Field
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the extent to which modern supermarkets in the right place can improve local services and attract new investment to the town centre economy.
§ Mr. Gummer
Retail developments in town centres increase the choice, widen the opportunities available, and add to the attraction of those centres. Supermarkets located in the right place, in or next to town centres, can provide the anchor for other types of retailing, and thus help ensure the viability of town centres.
§ Mr. Spring
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps are being undertaken to encourage the revitalisation of town centres.723W
§ Mr. Gummer
I have taken a number of measures, includingissuing guidance to local planning authorities to focus retail development in or next to town centres through policies and proposals in their development plans;advising on good practice for local authorities to help them implement this guidance; andencouraging positive promotion of town centres and town centre management.
I intend to consider this matter further, among other issues, at a symposium on quality in town and country which I am hosting on 12 December.
§ Sir Paul Beresford
Current planning policy guidance on the change of use of buildings in town centres is contained in planning policy guidance note No. 6, "Town Centres and Retail Developments", issued in July 1993. There are no current proposals to issue new guidance.
There are, however, proposals to extend permitted development rights so that the use of space above shops can be changed to a single flat or back again without a planning application, provided there is no material alteration to the outside of the building.