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Shops to houses conversions – a little ahead of schedule actually

Summary:
We here at the ASI have long said that our job, duty, is to be those off howling in the wilderness with the odd ideas for how society can and should be improved. Start with an entirely contrary to accepted fashion proposal and then spend a decade seeing it move from absurd to thinkable through acceptable to policy. The latest one seems to be a little ahead of schedule:New rules allowing shops to be converted into homes to revitalise high streetsThe logic being impeccable. Online shopping means we need a smaller retail estate. We do also tend to think that we’d like more residential estate in the country. Ease the rules to allow the conversion:“We are creating the most small business friendly planning system in the world to provide the flexibility needed for high streets to bounce back from

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We here at the ASI have long said that our job, duty, is to be those off howling in the wilderness with the odd ideas for how society can and should be improved. Start with an entirely contrary to accepted fashion proposal and then spend a decade seeing it move from absurd to thinkable through acceptable to policy.

The latest one seems to be a little ahead of schedule:

New rules allowing shops to be converted into homes to revitalise high streets

The logic being impeccable. Online shopping means we need a smaller retail estate. We do also tend to think that we’d like more residential estate in the country. Ease the rules to allow the conversion:

“We are creating the most small business friendly planning system in the world to provide the flexibility needed for high streets to bounce back from the pandemic,” Jenrick said.

“By diversifying our town and city centres and encouraging the conversion of unused shops into cafes, restaurants or even new homes, we can help the high street to adapt and thrive for the future.”

Back in August 2011 we pointed out that this was indeed the obvious and logical solution:

Or we could observe reality and conclude that with so much shopping now done by computer we simply don’t need as many shopfronts as we used to. As with manufacturing, we could turn those buildings we no longer need to other uses.

Anyone know how to convert a shop into affordable housing?

It was good sense then, it’s good sense now, it’s just that things seem to be speeding up - we’re still 5 months short of that decade. No, we don’t claim sole and whole ownership of the original idea but we would like to suggest that perhaps people should start listening faster.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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