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Shop shutter planning move rejected

Proposals to cut planning restrictions on shops wanting to install security shutters in the wake of last year's riots have been rejected.

Ministers were reportedly considering scrapping the requirement for retailers to seek planning permission to install shutters outside their shop windows, following last summer's disorder which swept London and other cities.

But a consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) concluded that it "would be a disproportionate over-reaction to the riots" for shops to be allowed to introduce the security measures without approval from planning authorities, the Grocer magazine reported.

Decision officer Maria Stasiak said local planning authorities and police forces were concerned that giving retailers a free rein to put up shutters could have a detrimental effect on town centres, the magazine added.

In a letter to planning officers, Ms Stasiak said shutters could create "an unwelcoming environment, which could increase the fear of crime, attract anti-social behaviour and graffiti and reduce footfall".

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) questioned whether local councils would now follow Government guidance and use their powers to cut red tape for businesses wanting to introduce shutters.

ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan said: "This would require councils to be creative, talk to local retailers and respond to their needs. That is not something they're renowned for."

There have been widespread calls among retailers for planning restrictions to be eased for installing shop shutters. In one example, marketing company Ogilvy & Mather, from riot-hit Greens End in Woolwich, south-east London, planned to install new shutters featuring artistic images of baby faces. But the firm abandoned the idea after learning it would face a three to six month wait for planning permission.

Siva Kandiah, whose shop, Clarence Convenience Store, was wrecked by rioters in Hackney, north-east London, said: "They should leave it up to us to decide what we need to keep our shops safe."

A DCLG spokesman said: "The Government has taken the strongest possible action to prevent rioting again, and will continue to do so. Police and councils advised that relaxing these rules could have the opposite effect and increase crime and anti-social behaviour by giving high streets the appearance of being under siege. Town centres should be attractive and family friendly places to visit, and the current protections already available for shops offer more security and don't require planning permission."

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