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John Gummer's revised Planning Policy Guidance Note on town centres and retail developments (PPG6) should help redr...
John Gummer's revised Planning Policy Guidance Note on town centres and retail developments (PPG6) should help redress the decline in the economic well being of town centres, says the District Planning Officers Society in its comments on the consultation draft.

The society says it is particularly glad to see the increased recognition by central government of the crucial importance of securing successful, lively and attractive town centres.

But the society has expressed concern about a number of more detailed points. It says the scope of PPG6 goes well beyond what the planning system is able to promote or control.

And the society says that too much is expected of the development plan system - it doubts whether the plan led system will be able to keep up with the 'challenging dynamism of retailing'. The society believes it is counter productive to suggest the addition of extra detail for the preparation of local plans.

The DPOS says that resources are needed to make town centres work, for example on environmental, access and car parking improvements, but the PPG is 'silent or ambivalent about this topic. 'The pursuit of sustainability and healthy town centres must be led by local authorities but to do so they will need to commit funds and exercise strategic control.'

The society also believes that weight should be given to the role town centre management can play in retaining buildings of architectural or historic interest and in reusing derelict and degraded sites, and it says that emphasis should be placed on the need to provide shopping and related facilities as part of major new housing developments.

Keith Mayoh, chair of the DPOS development plan topic group said:

'The DPOS welcomes the consultative draft but the secretary of state should ease local authority capital controls to enable them to engage in partnerships with the private sector to secure the objectives of this new guidance.'

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