The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called for greater flexibility in the planning system to enable retailers to respond to changing consumer demands.

The ACS was responding to a consultation from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government on changing the planning system to allow for greater changes of use to support the high street to adapt and diversify.

In its submission, the ACS supports a new use class (a category of property types for the planning system) which merges the A1 (shops), A2 (financial services) and A3 (food and drink) use classes to increase flexibility for retailers when developing services alongside their grocery offer.

The submission also outlines support for new permitted development rights for A1 (shops) to B1 (office use) conversions and the demolition of commercial to be rebuilt for residential use, where it supports long-term strategies for high streets and shopping parades and does not undermine provision of local services. Permitted development rights allow changes of use from one use class to another without requiring full planning permission.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are supporting greater flexibility in the planning system to allow local high streets and shopping parades to adapt to changing consumer demands without undermining the viability of those trading locations and support convenience retailers to introduce new services within their businesses.

“Convenience stores continue to play a vital role in the communities that they serve, providing their customers with access to essential services that they need in their day to day life. It is important that the planning system doesn’t put up unnecessary barriers to stores investing in their businesses and providing additional services to their customers.”