The plans by the Government to ease planning restrictions are to be eased temporarily should be viewed as good news and an opportunity for the leisure sector, according to a leading advisor. Trevor Watson, director of valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons (DCL), said that pub and restaurant owners should “leap at the chance to enlarge the footprint of their buildings wherever possible - particularly in high value areas”. He said: “Although the details are yet to be fully announced and worked through, it is understood that retail shops will be able to extend by up to 100 sq m (1,076 sq ft) without the need for planning permission. Shops will also be able to build up to their boundaries without the need for planning permission. It is assumed this apply to all high street locations. “We all know the difficulties that can be encountered when seeking to extend or alter properties, relaxation of controls is something that should be seized before this window of opportunity closes. The long-term benefit will be in disputable. “It also seems likely that there will also be scope to enlarge residential accommodation above commercial buildings. This again could result in a significant windfall profit to landowners.” Watson said that from a business point of view, these changes should prove to be a “significant fillip to development in the sector which will be very good news indeed”. He said: “Let’s hope that the banks endorse this approach and are keen to support property investment and development of this nature. “From an environmental point of view, I am not sure that these proposed changes are such a good thing. In the short term however, it is important that occupiers and investors in leisure property, take a close look at their physical assets and look to enhance value during this window of opportunity.”