Wandsworth to protect high streets from estate agents

Wandsworth Council is to give greater protection to retail space from being turned into estate agents.

Councillors say they want to ensure that local shops are not switched to financial sector businesses without good reason.

The council will use Article 4 powers to force planning permission to be obtained before shops can be changed into financial or professional services businesses, which can currently be achieved under permitted development.

The use of these Article 4 planning powers was recently applied to 120 of the borough’s pubs, aiming to stop their conversion to alternative uses.

Wandsworth Council say they are also progressing plans that would see them used to prevent office or employment space being switched to residential use.

Strategic planning spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “Shops that sell goods to customers are the lifeblood of our high streets. They provide vital services to residents and generate jobs and economic growth.

“We want to do what we can to support them and one way we can do this is by removing permitted development rights that mean retailers can be turned into businesses such as estate agents without planning consent.

“Under this new system, planning permission would be needed before this would be allowed. Offering this enhanced level of protection under planning laws is just one way we can help safeguard our local shops and keep our high streets vibrant.”

The new rules will apply to all the borough’s main shopping areas and other important shopping parades and are expected to come into force in August.

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