Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes in town centres could see increased footfall as the Government has approved a new measure that will increase the number of homes on high streets, writes Gurjit Degun. Communities secretary Eric Pickles said the new planning rights will allow two flats, instead of the current one, to be created above shops without the need for planning permission. The new rights will come into force on 1 October 2012. The Government said that relaxing planning restrictions on creating flats above shops can also help “increase the vitality of town centres by increasing footfall and providing a boost to high street regeneration”. Pickles said: “Cutting this red tape should be a shot in the arm for the high street increasing footfall and providing a boost to regeneration.” Planning Minister Greg Clark added: “The Government is determined to make the very best use of existing buildings to provide more homes as quickly and simply as possible. This change offers real potential to provide more affordable housing and give a much needed boost to our high streets. “Ensuring unused space above shops can be used in a better way is one of the many changes the Government has introduced to streamline the planning system and to cut unnecessary bureaucracy.”