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26May94 UK: RETAIL CASH AT RISK SAYS BPF - RETAIL CONSTRUCTION.

Top developers this week warned that huge investments in retail construction are at risk because of the Government's opposition to out-of-town shopping centres.The British Property Federation, representing larger developers, was giving evidence to watchdog MPs on the environment select committee who are looking at the effect large greenfield shopping schemes have on the surrounding areas.The BPF fears that environment secretary John Gummer plans to force retail developments into town centres through a blanket ban on out-of-town projects.In the next few weeks the Department of the Environment is expected to publish new planning guidance instructing local authorities to approve only town centre shopping schemes.But developers argue such a ban will choke investment because many town centre sites are not profitable to develop.The BPF also called for costs to be refunded if Mr Gummer rejects planning applications which conform with existing policy.It warned: 'Major retail developments often have a very long lead-in time.'For the development and investment community there must be some certainty they will not be frustrated by a sudden reversal of policy.'