There is, obviously enough, a certain amount of special pleading here but they're right all the same. Our problem being that we face uncertainty and therefore planning simply cannot be the solution:
A coalition of retailers, landlords, councils and pubs has called for planning laws to be torn up so that abandoned shops can be turned into cafes, galleries, gyms and other businesses that could help rejuvenate Britain’s decimated high streets.
Empty units in the middle of towns and villages are often hard to let because it can be difficult and expensive to get permission to change their use. For example, a unit used as a hairdresser’s needs permission to be changed into a nail bar.
As we may have noted the basic technology of retail is changing. Instead of the footfall on the High Street being the determinant of success it's that traffic to websites which is. Some 16
% or so of retail sales now take place on that there internet rather than through physical shops. We might thus reason that we've an excess of those physical shops for our retail needs.
So, what should we do? Those High Streets, to what use should they be put? Which is where the problem is. We don't know. No one knows, there's not a single person with even a hint of a Scoobie. No entrepreneur has cracked it, no expert has been able to tell us all what to do next.
Which means that asking the bureaucracy for permission to do whatever is ludicrous. For if the people who actually do things don't know then the paper shufflers are going to be entirely clueless, aren't they? Given that we really don't know then what criteria can possibly be used to allow or not in conformity with some plan? For what the heck is the plan itself?
We've only the one method of dealing with said uncertainty. People go try stuff and see what happens. Much of it will be dire, some if not most will fail but through that process of experimentation we'll find whatever match there is between those physical assets and the desires and wants of human beings. Maybe it's that people go live in all those buildings and buy online. Perhaps it's services which are notoriously difficult to feed down a fibreoptic cable. Could be we just stick holograms of people in the streets and call it thriving.
That is, our only possible response to uncertainty of what to do is a free market. For that's the only system which does allow that experimentation which zeroes in on that match between assets and desires.
We don't know what to do, you don't know what to do, the bureaucrats haven't a clue. So, while we all try to experiment to find out why are we asking the bureaucrats for permission?