The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has responded to a Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on rural planning, calling on the department to ensure that the planning system supports the growth and retention of rural convenience stores.

The submission notes that over a third of stores are based in rural locations, which equates to just under 20,000 businesses operating in small villages and isolated areas.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Rural stores are often the only retail offering for a small village, so ensuring that they can thrive through a fair, plan-led system is essential. We support the way that the National Planning Policy Framework looks at rural businesses, but this must be backed up by a greater adoption rate for Local Plans that promote the retention and development of existing local services.”

The submission also calls for changes of property use from retail to residential to assess the impacts that removing retail provisions will have on the local economy, food and non-food services, and the local character of the community.