4 Oct 2008

Clone prone

Local independent shops are closing or being replaced with chain-store ‘clones’ and formula retailers: specialist stores, traditional pubs, banks and post offices are closing every day. A few supermarket chains are getting increasingly dominant, with no proposals from the government to stop them.

A wide range of local shops and services within walking distance is essential to a sustainable community. Yet current national and local government policies are not protecting local shops and markets.

As the chain stores move in towns are losing their distinctive characters, and all town centres begin to look the same. And the effect on the local economy is also serious - money spent in locally owned shops is much more likely to remain within the local economy, increasing the local multiplier effect.

We need to prioritise measures that will bring an end to ‘clone town Britain’, by:
  • creating ‘business conservation areas’ to preserve the character and amenity of existing high streets
  • making sure that food shops, banks, pharmacies and post offices are located within all residential areas of a certain size, and within 15 minutes’ walk in all urban and suburban areas
  • aiming to have at least 50% of new developments occupied by small retailers
  • favouring sustainable businesses
  • encouraging pedestrianisation
  • adopting a retail strategy that encourages local shops and competition, including street markets and farmers’ markets.

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