The Council lobbied Communities and Local Government (CLG) for planning changes identified by the Retail Commission from 2007 to 2009, when the draft PPS4 Planning for Sustainable Economic Development was published and it was clear that the Government was not minded to make the changes requested.
At the Economic Development OSC in June 2009 it was decided that the Council should continue to lobby for these changes by bringing together a group of London boroughs that have similar concerns about protecting their retail offers. A subsequent meeting with the GLA led to the suggestion that the best way to achieve the desired changes would be via a new London Local Authorities Act and the Council wrote to all London boroughs in November 2009 asking for their support for this proposal.
We received 13 responses, ten in favour and three against. In July 2010 London Councils declined to support our proposed London Local Authorities Act because of the diversity of opinion that exists across London boroughs on the subject.
In addition in autumn 2009 the Council gave written and verbal evidence to the GLA’s Planning and Housing Committee review of measures designed to protect London’s local shops.
In March 2010 a petition to the Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street, Number10/petitions calling for changes to the planning system to allow councils to protect small shops and antiques arcades was submitted by Cllr Tim Ahern, Cabinet Member for Regeneration.
The petition received more than 500 signatures but in September 2010 the Government gave the following response declining to make the changes requested. In October 2010 Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell, Leader of the Council, wrote to Eric Pickles, Minister for Communities and Local Government, explaining that the Council does not have the power to protect areas like Portobello Road and asking for the changes recommended by the Retail Commission be included in forthcoming planning legislation.
In January 2011 the Executive Director of Planning and Borough Development met with civil servants at Communities and Local Government to discuss the points raised in the Leader's letter and was informed there was no appetite amongst Ministers to make changes to primary planning legislation that the Retail Commission recommendations would require.
In December 2011 the Portas Review was published making a number of recommendations on the future of the high street. The Council's response to these recommendations and the Government has the Governments formal response.
The Council's response [PDF]