The great chicken shop homes boom

Plan­ning rules axed to cre­ate hous­ing and free high streets from plague of smelly t ake­aways

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Harry Cole DEPUTY PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

TAKE­AWAY own­ers are set to be given the right to con­vert their res­tau­rants into homes without plan­ning per­mis­sion in a bid to re­claim high streets from an un­prece­dented growth in fast-food shops.

In a move to rid Bri­tain’s town cen­tres of ‘noisy and smelly’ out­lets that are of­ten the scene of anti-so­cial be­hav­iour, Min­is­ters are poised to re­lax strict plan­ning laws to turn them into res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties.

Any­one cur­rently wish­ing to con­vert one of Bri­tain’s 56,638 hot take­away re­tail­ers such as chicken or ke­bab shops into a home must first ap­ply to the lo­cal coun­cil for com­plex and bu­reau­cratic ap­proval.

But now the High Streets Min­is­ter Jake Berry wants to dis­pense with per­mit­ted devel­op­ment laws to bring the premises in line with of­fice build­ings and ware­houses.

And the rad­i­cal idea has the back­ing of think-tank Pol­icy Ex­change, who say it will help solve the hous­ing cri­sis.

They say t ake­away busi­nesses could make far more money by con­vert­ing the prop­er­ties and mov­ing busi­nesses out of town as more and more cus­tomers or­der take­aways on mo­bile phone apps.

The UK has seen a surge in new take­aways as tra­di­tional high street shops go un­der, with more than 4,000 open­ing since 2014.

But they are deeply un­pop­u­lar with lo­cal res­i­dents who com­plain about odour and noise late into the night.

Lon­don has seen a four per cent in­crease in take­aways, ris­ing to 10,260, while Birm­ing­ham has seen an 18 per cent surge t o 1,291 t ake­aways. Both Manch­ester and Bris­tol have also seen a 17 per cent rise to 925 and 569 take­aways in five years, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­tre for Diet and Ac­tiv­ity Re­search at the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge.

Mr Berry i s push­ing t he con­ver­sion idea as part of a pack­age de­signed to ‘ in­ject t he free mar­ket i nto high street re­newal’. And the Rossendale and Dar­wen MP urged town halls not to hold up the im­ple­men­ta­tion of mea­sures.

He told The Mail on Sun­day: ‘Th­ese re­forms to turn home de­liv­ery into homes are part of our ini­tia­tive to make the high street flex­i­ble to change without coun­cils caus­ing un­due de­lay on the process.’

Other mea­sures be­ing con­sid­ered would see bet­ting shops, pay­day loan shops and laun­derettes able to con­vert into of­fice space without hav­ing to ap­ply­ing for per­mis­sion.

Pol­icy Ex­change says the take­away mea­sure will ‘pro­vide greater flex­i­bil­ity on high streets, lead­ing to fewer va­cant build­ings and pro­vid­ing more homes for first-time buy­ers’.

And they ar­gue that with re­cent de­vel­op­ments in home de­liv­ery apps such as De­liv­eroo and Just Eat, hot food take­aways could be lo­cated away from res­i­dents on to in­dus­trial es­tates without los­ing busi­ness.

The group’s di­rec­tor of pol­icy, Will Heaven, said: ‘Take­away own­ers should have the free­dom to con­vert their premises into homes if they so choose.

‘Right now, gov­ern­ment gets in the way of some­thing that

‘4,000 new fast-food out­lets since 2014’

of­ten makes eco­nomic sense and would be wel­comed by many lo­cal res­i­dents.

‘ Wit h f a s t - f o o d del i ver y apps on the rise, the idea of end­less l ate- night chicken shops so close to where peo­ple live with all their at­ten­dant noise and smells, is in­creas­ingly out­dated.’

He will tell Min­is­ters in his for­mal sug­ges­tion to be sub­mit­ted to­mor­row: ‘ The key point is that this pol­icy would pro­vide greater flex­i­bil­ity on high streets as many up and down the coun­try con­tinue to strug­gle.

‘If hot food take­aways can be con­verted into homes more eas­ily, we will be­gin to see a re­vival in the sort of mixed-use high streets peo­ple love and want.’

The Min­istry for Hous­ing’s con­sul­ta­tion on high street plan­ning re­form closes to­mor­row evening, with Min­is­ters pre­par­ing to re­spond of­fi­cially with new pol­icy pro­pos­als within weeks.

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