Councils are powerless to put a stop to more charity shops coming to Uckfield.
Readers of a series of exclusive stories on UckfieldNews.com about the plethora of charity shops have argued the town and district councils should prevent more charity shops moving in.
Our inquiries have shown that there is nothing Wealden District Council or Uckfield Town Council can do on nearly all the occasions when a charity shop wants to move into the town.
Wealden is the planning authority – the council which gives or refuses planning permission.
A council spokesman said: “Retail is retail. You cannot plan for the sort of shops you have in a high street.”
In other words, planners cannot include conditions as to how shop premises are used, in the majority of cases. The only occasion when the council could intervene was when a change of use was being sought; ie: from an office to a charity shop.
This has not applied in recent cases in the town where all the charity shops have occupied previously used retail premises.
Certain categories of business – betting shops, for example – do need a licence to operate but not charity shops.
Uckfield Town Council has no power over the grant of planning permissions but is consulted when applications are made.
Town mayor, Cllr Ian Smith, said he did not know of any overwhelming concerns about the number of charity shops being expressed directly to the town council, although he had personally heard disquiet from some residents.
He said the town council had no jurisdiction over what shops were in the town.
If people were concerned they should contact the town clerk at the council offices, he said. Councillors could then consider the issue and take it up with Wealden District Council to see what could be done.
Wealden District Council confirmed charity shops were able to claim an 80 per cent rebate on business rates. See here
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