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Reforms threaten high street John Lewis warns

Government changes to planning will ruin the British High Street, the retailer John Lewis has warned.

The chain store submitted its worries to MPs about Coalition proposals designed to streamline the planning process. It fears The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will hurt already struggling market towns and lead to more out-of-town shopping centres.

The John Lewis Partnership also criticised the reforms for not including measures to entice independents back into town centres, saying it will weaken policies that had kept supermarkets from building out of town in recent years.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the company said in a statement to the audit committee that it is concerned the NPPF does not give necessary weight to the existing ‘town centre first’ policy and does not clarify how the framework’s “presumption in favour of sustainable development” is going to work.

John Lewis claimed the plans appeared to put economic growth before environmental or social benefits and further criticised the wording of the framework for being so vague it would slow down the planning process.

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government responded insisting the town centre first policy still exists. He told the newspaper: “Our reforms state clearly that councils should recognise town centres as the heart of their communities and should pursue policies to allow them to thrive.”

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