The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is consulting on plans to allow retailers to alter properties to cater for “click and collect” services without the need for new planning consent.
Joanne Wright, Partner in the Commercial Property & Development team discusses the recent changes in the laws surrounding click and collect facilities with MWB Online, first published on 20 August: The "Click and Collect" revolution.
Permitted development rights for retailers would be relaxed to facilitate “click and collect” services by permitting:
The erection of small ancillary buildings, buildings less than 4 metres in height and 20 square metres in floor space could be constructed as part of retailers existing permitted development rights. A number of conditions would apply for example, that the buildings are not erected closer than 2 metres to a boundary of the shop curtilage or within 5 metres of the nearest highway. Changes to existing rear loading bays, new loading bay doors and new loading ramps to existing shops will be permitted without the need for planning consent provided the existing loading bay area does not increase by more than 20% in size.
There would need to be prior approval to consider the design, siting and external appearance of any new structure however full planning permission would be required. The changes would also not apply if the developments were in national parks; conservation or protected areas or to listed buildings, monuments or sites of special interest.
Britain is the biggest global user of “click and collect” services. Currently 35% of online shoppers in the UK use this service and this figure is forecast to double within the next years. It is predicted that within the next 5 years, 7 out of 10 online shoppers will prefer to collect goods themselves rather than risk missing a delivery at home. The proposed relaxation of planning rules acknowledges the shift to online shopping and will hopefully assist small independent retailers in offering effective online purchase distribution including home delivery and “click and collect” services.
The popularity of the “click and collect” service has led Royal Mail to announce that it will roll out “click and collect” services to 20,000 British SMEs as part of plans to bolster its UK parcel business thus giving their customers the option of collecting goods from any Post Office branch.
Amazon has joined forces with online retail giant Doddle which is planning 300 “click and collect” centres at British railways stations such as Kings Cross over the next 3 years with retailers such as New Look, TM Lewin and internet fashion website ASOS having signed up to use Doddle’s services.
The Government’s proposals to allow retailers to make changes to their premises without the cost, time and hassle of securing planning permission paves the way for the “click and collect” revolution.
Other measures the Government is taking to support the revival of High Street include a £1,000 business rate discount for retail premises including pubs cafés and restaurants; an extension to the doubling of small business rate relief and allowing business rate bills to be paid over 12 months rather than 10 to help with cash flow.