RETAILER Next has accused councils of ‘Luddite intransigence and incompetence’ for failing to allow new out-of-town stores in cities including Sheffield.
The fashion chain is currently appealing against refusal of planning permission by Sheffield Council for a £10 million Next Home store near Meadowhall, which would have created 125 jobs.
The council argued the development was against planning policy which is to restrict new out-of-town retail developments and promote the city centre.
In its annual report, Next said: “In our dealing with local councils it is noticeable that some are much more pro-growth and pro-jobs than others.
“Many local councils are enthusiastic and efficient, but a few remain an unhealthy mix of Luddite intransigence and incompetence.
“Going forward, in areas where councils traditionally have got away with just saying ‘no’, we will be more active in harnessing the law and the full weight of public opinion in order to campaign for growth.”
Next’s appeal claims that the proposed Meadowhall development would not cause ‘any material impact’ on confidence and is not contrary to the council’s core policies.
After the refusal of planning permission, Sheffield Council’s chief executive John Mothersole said: “We need to make the right decisions for the future wellbeing of the city as a whole, and not be blinkered into isolated developments.
“We believe a thriving commercial and civic city centre is key to all our ambitions to grow the wider economy.
“Sheffield wants and needs the city centre to bounce back. We’re moving ahead with key schemes.”