LONDON-The government has commissioned new research in the first step of a strategy intended to cut delays in the completion of retail development.

The retail strategy group within the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), has commissioned DTZ Pieda Consulting to investigate the factors holding up land assembly, planning and the compulsory purchase process. The group, headed by ASDA chief executive Tony de Nunzio, wants case studies of four towns and feedback from developers and retailers.

Ministers and officials particularly concerned of the implications of delays for the competitiveness of UK retailing. It is now considered standard for a project to take 15-20 years from beginning to end. The DTZ study will look at the role of councils and the planning system to see whether a third party could better facilitate the CPO process. There are also concerns about reports that rival landlords and retailers are using the obligations built into the planning process to hear objections to hold up development.

DTZ has until the end of January to complete the study and the Strategy Group will report in the spring. It will also make recommendations to government and the industry.

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