The British Independent Retailers Association is concerned that the race by some local councils to become ‘net zero’ could have a detrimental impact on independent shopkeepers.
While Bira is committed to helping its members become more sustainable retailers, it is also concerned that some moves by local authorities could reduce accessibility to the high street.
Measures include pedestrianisation and axing car parking spaces. Case studies have been identified in Harrogate, Shaftesbury and Perth, among others.
Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “Bira supports a more environmentally friendly high street and is helping members to become sustainable retailers.
“However, we are seeing a race to ‘net zero’ in some local authorities, and our fears are that retail is not being considered, with plans being developed that may be detrimental to the high streets.
“There is a huge drive to provide cycle paths and pedestrianised areas. While this may reflect current trends, it does not necessarily result in more shoppers in the shops if accessibility is reduced as a result of these plans.
“As part of the covid restrictions, we experienced traffic reduction schemes and ad hoc pedestrianisation – all resulting in less parking and less access to the high streets.
“On the one side such plans may encourage people to come to town for a coffee, a bite to eat etc. But it is difficult to carry shopping home on a bike!
“We need planners to talk to retailers about the plans and share ideas for reducing carbon whilst retaining use of the high streets for everyone.”