Planning changes set to come into force from 1 September will open the door for restaurant operators to take over former retail and office premises without seeking consent from local authorities.
The changes will see use classes A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants) and B1 (offices) merged to create a new Class E. The change will allow spaces to be changed from one use to another without permission as well as opening the door for more multi-use areas.
Stephen Owens, managing director of pubs and restaurants at Christie & Co, told The Caterer: "I think the opportunity for pop-up restaurants is absolutely there, you can see that happening more frequently.
"The high street restaurant sector is not in a great place, with many companies going through company voluntary arrangements or insolvency processes, so there's not necessarily latent demand for new restaurants in city centres. But in community locations and town centres, where there is better trading at the moment, you can see that happening."
Pubs are exempt from the changes and restaurants moving into new spaces will still require permission from local authorities to operate takeaways or to sell alcohol from the premises.
In the longer-term Owens said the changes will open the door to change and revamp high streets. He explained: "Longer-term, there are regeneration possibilities in both town and city centres and you can see flexible spaces emerging, like Market Hall or Box Park-type operations. You could probably see that kind of model coming into larger spaces."
He added: "The main beneficiaries will be those who want to morph a business throughout the day; for example, from a working space in the morning to a restaurant at lunchtime.
"It is also suitable for those looking to have multiple types of uses within the same building. So, if you went into an old-fashioned, five-storey department store, you could have a crèche on one floor, office working space, restaurant areas and retail, all in the same building and without the necessity of having to get planning consent for all the component parts."
While operators will have increased flexibility, Owens said that landlords will also be able to look at a wider scope of tenants for spaces and to bear this in mind when taking on new leases.
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