On the face of it, the amendment to the Town & Country Town Planning Act, Use Classes 2020, is a very positive step by the government. A radical overhaul of an outdated system possibly.

It will group all forms of retail, business and service based premises in one category, seemingly making the system simpler and permitting movement between the use class without needing planning consent.

This business category does exclude the more contentious uses such as pubs, clubs and fast food takeaways, moving them into a sui generis use class.

This obviously poses the question of valuation. The old model of retail being more valuable than restaurant and vice versa just because will no longer come into play. Values will become even further linked to location, the type of building and perhaps adaptability to technology. It is a game changer on one hand.

But local authorities, councillors and their residents still have a massive say in planning and perhaps too much control for this amendment to have any real positive effect.

I have been an agent primarily dealing with the acquisition and disposal of restaurant, bar and club premises, mostly in Central London for almost 25 years. Other than agreeing terms, the main hurdles in concluding a deal are the ability to obtain planning for kitchen extract and associated plant, and successfully acquiring a satisfactory premises licence for the sale of alcohol. Who controls this?

Not central Government. It is local authorities, their councillors and residents, and agendas come into play. In so many instances, planning applications for the erection of brand new state-of-the-art kitchen extract systems that blow out cleaner air than we breathe are refused, stopping what is often a huge improvement to both the built and natural environment.

Commonly, the proposals are to replace smelly, ugly and rattling ducting and plant systems. I have been working on one particular case in a nameless London Borough where three years after agreeing terms for an assignment of a lease subject to a change of use to A3 (restaurant) from A1 (retail), the application has still not been approved. Decision makers in the council under pressure from influential residents have no interest in approving plans for a brand new fully functioning kitchen extract system that will replace a not fit for purpose and non-functioning system. In this instance, outside and non-commercial forces have too much control in the process.

Also, recently in another London Brough, a premises licence application for a new restaurant that will employ over 30 people and entail restaurant fit-out costs of around £1m, was restricted to a terminal hour of 9pm. A licence had previously been granted on these newly built premises with a terminal hour of 11pm. These are core hours and hours that any restaurant business should expect to achieve. In this instance, protectionist residents put so much pressure on the local authority that the hours were cut to a point where the business simply could not work. How could you have your last dinner sitting at 7pm? Consequently, the deal has aborted and the much needed investment and creation of jobs that London needs right now went up in smoke.

Clearly, the changes to the act must not be allowed to create a free-for-all and so there must be appropriate checks and balances in place. Parameters in which all parties must work together. But that is just the point. Right now there are no parameters and local agendas, often driven by a tiny minority, are dictating what happens. While the government has acted, it must now follow through to ensure a well-intentioned move does not become a smoking gun.

Nick Weir is co-managing director at Shelley Sandzer