Retailers will be able to build new click and collect facilities on their premises without having to seek planning permission, under plans announced by the government on Monday.
High streets minister Penny Mordaunt said the proposals would give shop owners more freedom to make changes such as adding covered collection points or lockers and installing new loading bay doors and ramps, so they can accept more deliveries for local online shoppers to collect.
Any new click and collect facilities could only be within the boundaries of existing premises, such as the car park, and the proposals exclude listed buildings. Retailers will only be allowed to increase the size of an existing loading bay by up to 20%.
The government hopes the relaxed rules will encourage more retailers to offer click and collect services, mitigating the impact of online shopping on high street footfall.
Three in four adults in the UK now shop online, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week, with clothing and sports goods the most common purchases.
More than a third (35%) of online shoppers in the UK now use click and collect services, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government – and that is set to double within the next three years.
Mordaunt said: “Click and collect is set to be the next big thing on the high street, as discerning online shoppers look to the convenience of the high street as much as their computer screens.
“[These] proposals would help not just larger retailers, but also independent and smaller shops to benefit, ensuring their premises were fit for the needs of the 21st century shopper.”