Takeaway owners to be given right to convert restaurants into homes

Takeaway owners will be given the right to convert their restaurants into homes WITHOUT planning permission to free high streets from the plague of smelly chicken shops

  • Ministers to relax planning laws to ‘reclaim’ Britain’s high streets from takeaways
  • Move will ‘rid town centres of noisy outlets often scene of anti-social behaviour’
  • More than 4,000 takeaways have opened in UK since 2014 as shops go under

Takeaway owners are set to be given the right to convert their restaurants into homes without planning permission in a bid to reclaim high streets from an unprecedented growth in fast-food shops.

In a move to rid Britain’s town centres of ‘noisy and smelly’ outlets that are often the scene of anti-social behaviour, Ministers are poised to relax strict planning laws to turn them into residential properties.

Anyone currently wishing to convert one of Britain’s 56,638 hot takeaway retailers such as chicken or kebab shops into a home must first apply to the local council for complex and bureaucratic approval.

Ministers are poised to relax strict planning laws to turn takeaways into residential properties (file photo)

But now the High Streets Minister Jake Berry wants to dispense with permitted development laws to bring the premises in line with office buildings and warehouses.

And the radical idea has the backing of think-tank Policy Exchange, who say it will help solve the housing crisis.

They say takeaway businesses could make far more money by converting the properties and moving businesses out of town as more and more customers order takeaways on mobile phone apps.

The UK has seen a surge in new takeaways as traditional high street shops go under, with more than 4,000 opening since 2014.


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But they are deeply unpopular with local residents who complain about odour and noise late into the night.

London has seen a four per cent increase in takeaways, rising to 10,260, while Birmingham has seen an 18 per cent surge to 1,291 takeaways. 

Both Manchester and Bristol have also seen a 17 per cent rise to 925 and 569 takeaways in five years, according to the Centre for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge.

Mr Berry is pushing the conversion idea as part of a package designed to ‘inject the free market into high street renewal’. And the Rossendale and Darwen MP urged town halls not to hold up the implementation of measures.

The UK has seen a surge in new takeaways as traditional high street shops go under, with more than 4,000 opening since 2014 (file photo)

He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘These reforms to turn home delivery into homes are part of our initiative to make the high street flexible to change without councils causing undue delay on the process.’

Other measures being considered would see betting shops, payday loan shops and launderettes able to convert into office space without having to applying for permission.

Policy Exchange says the takeaway measure will ‘provide greater flexibility on high streets, leading to fewer vacant buildings and providing more homes for first-time buyers’.

And they argue that with recent developments in home delivery apps such as Deliveroo and Just Eat, hot food takeaways could be located away from residents on to industrial estates without losing business.

The group’s director of policy, Will Heaven, said: ‘Takeaway owners should have the freedom to convert their premises into homes if they so choose.

A scourge that blights our town

Government plans to tackle the scourge of chicken shops on high streets reflect a changing world where people are more likely to use their phone than queue for chips on a Friday night.

While more and more shoppers head to out-of-town stores or go online, town centres have filled up with takeaways, charity shops and nail bars. But the high street takeaway boom has been deeply unpopular with residents who complain their odour and late-night opening hours drives down house prices. 

Sheffield Council says: ‘The majority of the smell complaints we receive are about hot food takeaway premises.’

Government plans to tackle the scourge of chicken shops on high streets reflect a changing world where people are more likely to use their phone than queue for chips on a Friday night

And polling by the Policy Exchange think-tank shows that the majority of people think a quiet area is ‘important in making your area a pleasant place to live’.

But now technology is catching up with the takeaway market, with a dramatic increase in mobile phone apps to deliver food direct to users’ doors.

Policy-makers say this makes the need for a high street presence for takeaways redundant, with businesses able to make more money by basing their kitchens on industrial estates where they would get cheaper rent and rates and, crucially, are away from homes. 

By relaxing the law to allow old takeaway shops to be turned into houses, Ministers believe they are on to a vote winner and one solution to help solve Britain’s housing crisis.

‘Right now, government gets in the way of something that often makes economic sense and would be welcomed by many local residents.

‘With fast-food delivery apps on the rise, the idea of endless late-night chicken shops so close to where people live with all their attendant noise and smells, is increasingly outdated.’

He will tell Ministers in his formal suggestion to be submitted tomorrow: ‘The key point is that this policy would provide greater flexibility on high streets as many up and down the country continue to struggle.

‘If hot food takeaways can be converted into homes more easily, we will begin to see a revival in the sort of mixed-use high streets people love and want.’

The Ministry for Housing’s consultation on high street planning reform closes tomorrow evening, with Ministers preparing to respond officially with new policy proposals within weeks.

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