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New laws allow developers to home in on London shops.

Homing in: the capital’s independent stores will be vulnerable for conversion to residential property, the CBRE is warning.

Laura Chester writes

Independent shops across London could be forced to close because of new planning laws, research out today warns.

A change to planning regulations that came into law yesterday makes it much easier for developers to turn small retail units into homes, prompting property advisory business CBRE to claim small shops and town centres in the capital must change or face closure.

Research by the body, seen exclusively by the Evening Standard, highlights 10 London boroughs that have seen house prices rocket past the rise in value of retail property, leaving shops more vulnerable to be converted into homes by developers.

These boroughs — Camden, Islington, Hackney, Southwark, Wandsworth, Merton, Kingston, Richmond, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster — could become battle grounds between developers and local authorities, which are likely to resist the loss of some shops, the CBRE warned.

“Town-centre shops need to evolve, they need to become mixed use, social hubs to survive in the changing environment of how we now shop,” said the CBRE’s Ian Anderson, head of national and retail planning.

He pointed out that local authorities will have the opportunity to resist some cases if there was a proven detrimental effect on local amenities.

London needs more than 42,000 new homes a year over the next twenty years to meet the demands of a growing population.

Anderson added: “There is structural change, but retail and housing can work together. Homes and shops in centres, creating an attractive environment and increasing the dwell time of shoppers is the future.

“This is fresh policy so things will have to be monitored as changes develop.”

Are you ready to monitor this?

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