In an attempt to help the transformation programmes of Town centres, the Government have changed legislation  in order to allow the change of use of premises from one business use to another without planning permission (called permitted development rights).

The changes apply to premises used by retail, restaurants, professional services, certain medical, creche and daycare uses and some indoor sport, recreation and fitness uses.

This will make it a good deal easier for local authorities and placemakers to encourage building owners and tenants sitting with vacated formerly retail properties to change their use to town centre housing or alternative uses such as cultural or community spaces.

This is a positive step forward in the revitalisation of empty (and soon to be empty) high street space.

However, according to Amanda Beresford, Partner and Head of Planning Schofield Sweeney, the new rules are not as straightforward as may first seem.

She points out that businesses who lease their premises will need to review the user clause in the lease and any restrictive covenants which restrict the use of the property.

In addition, there may be existing planning permissions, planning agreements or Article 4 directions imposing conditions or restricting use.

And, if external building alterations are needed to convert premises, these will still be subject to the current planning permission regime.

The new regulations also do not apply to shops under 280m2, community halls, swimming pools, skating rinks and outdoor sports facilities, schools, museums, libraries, exhibition spaces, places of worship and law courts, pubs, takeaways, cinemas, concert venues and night clubs.

The new changes are welcome and are a signal that the Government is open to creating the right environment for Towns and High Streets to transform themselves in a new way to aid recovery – but they do not give ‘carte blanche’ to transform buildings without regard.

The message is positive – but proceed with caution.



So we’re all waking up into a new world where things look the same but are, in reality, very different.

Lockdown restrictions are easing for many – but still in force for a few as the threat of Coronavirus continues to be present.

For the High Street and local Towns, apart from the initial queues on lockdown easing, this has meant weaker footfall and people still playing it safe and staying away.

The new environment we find ourselves in is going to be different from the old ‘consumerism’ and retail driven High Streets of the past – in fact many commentators have said that the High Street had become over-reliant on national High Street chains opening increasing number of stores and funding even higher rents.

Evidence of this is clear as, one effect of Coronavirus, has been to accelerate timescales in many High Streets from a slow and steady decline, to a rapid reassessment and closing of increasingly unprofitable locations and whole chains slipping into Administration.

This rapid development has precipitated a need for placemakers to act quickly and positively to change the High Street environment which has been some time in the making to recover their identity and move forward with a purpose – with each Town taking its own path towards that end.

High Streets of the future will probably include a higher mix of housing and live/work space. These residents will be surrounded by local independents servicing their needs and the local placemakers will drive footfall by organising interesting and inclusive community events.

The dscvr app and it’s way of connecting people to the High Street to find out what’s there and what’s going on will be much more in demand and we’re already seeing an increase in the number of people we’re speaking to.

We’re refitting the app to move away from lockdown information and moving back to working with High Street Brands, Local Independents, Communities and Placemakers to deliver the services to our audience we were delivering prior to lockdown. 

We’re more needed than ever!

The dscvr app is now concentrating on what you can do during lockdown, rather than what you can’t (and it’s more than you think).

We’re all about making it easy to find all the exciting things you can do during lockdown which will help everyone keep physically and mentally fit!

We’re highlighting amazing local heroes – from local greengrocers, butchers, restaurants and essentials shops who are now delivering. 

We’ve also added listings of amazing things you can choose to do from home – so there’s really no excuse for being bored!

We have tons of Family Friendly activities from downloadable colouring and activities, lesson support, age appropriate theatre, cooking for kids and storytelling to balloon classes and even chances to earn Blue Peter Badges.

Thousands of free streaming audiobooks from Harry Potter to Beatrix Potter.

Fitness and wellbeing classes at home to keep you physically and mentally fit – including Hundreds of free workouts with Celebrity Trainers and Fitness experts, HIIT sessions, Clubbercise, Yoga and Pilates, Seniors workouts including Ballet for the over 55’s, meditation, resilience and mindfulness sessions.

Theatre, Opera, Ballet and Classical music – including free streams from New York Met, Cirque du Soleil, Opera North, Andrew Lloyd Webber productions, London Philharmonic, Royal Opera House and the National Theatre.

Explore the Museums and Art Galleries of the World including British Museum, Uffuzi Gallery, Rijksmuseum, National Portrait Museum, Vatican Museums, the Louvre, Buckingham Palace and the Smithsonian.

Watch Livestream Gigs and Virtual Meetups including the Hacienda House Party, Jason Mraz and streaming with Bob Sinclar and events such as Virtual Cheese and Wine tasting.

Visit animals all over the world with Home Safari from Sharks, Meerkats, Bears, Tigers and Pengiuns from the world’s leading zoos and Aquariums.

Learn a new skill in Lockdown – we have over 150,000 courses to learn a new skill ranging from writing a novel to learning the guitar, developing an app to becoming a certified therapist.

Take a Virtual Holiday! Travel the world from your armchair – from live webcams in Africa to 360 degree tours of the worlds greatest landmarks and sights taking in everything from Rio de Janerio and flying around New York to riding a virtual rollercoaster at Seaworld and virtually visiting Disneyworld.

There’s a lot here for everyone!

Stay safe

dscvr app normally champions all things local to shop, eat and do in your High Street and Town. But that’s not possible as all the shops, restaurants, bars and venues are closed due to the Coronavirus restrictions.

However, there are now an increasing number of small businesses who have adapted their model to continue providing services, either by moving online or by new delivery services, but are frustrated in getting their message out.

We wondered whether we could help.

dscvr app has temporarily switched from championing things to shop, eat and do locally… to highlighting amazing local businesses that are still serving their communities.

Coronavirus lockdown is creating stressful environments for people who are self isolating. So the dscvr app now also highlights things to do online to keep busy, fit and preserve mental health. These range from opera from leading institutions around the world, virtual safari’s at the world’s top zoos and aquariums, masterclasses to learn a new skill, through to family friendly activities and fitness and wellbeing programmes.

We strongly feel that promoting local innovative businesses is important to support the local economy and local communities as there are very few places that people can find such information. 

In addition, there is a pressure on our collective mental health. A YouGov poll commissioned at the end of March found that nearly two thirds of adults felt anxious or worried about the outbreak and UK charity The Mental Health Foundation recently said that “…the mental health impact of the pandemic is going to last longer than the physical health impact…”. In February the number of participants joining virtual events shot up by 978% in China compared to the same time last year, and the UK is predicted to follow a similar pattern.

We believe that by ensuring that people have an easy way of accessing information on things to do during self isolation, it will help safeguard people’s mental and physical health and take further pressure off an already strained NHS.

The dscvr app is free to download and businesses offering services and delivery can advertise their services for free during this period. We think it’s important to help everyone, so we’re doing this as a service to people during this difficult time, we’re running on volunteers and we will earn no revenue from providing this information. 

Businesses can submit their services at and the dscvr team will upload these directly onto the app.

On 11 March, the World Health Organisation declared the Novel Coronavirus as a Pandemic.

Yesterday, the Government announced that, with immediate effect, all shops, restaurants, bars and venues were to close until further notice.

Clearly all of these represent everyone that we represent and as a result we have no choice but to suspend our operations until the restrictions lift and we can resume the promotion of things to shop, eat and do in your local high street and town.

Please stay home and stay safe.

We’ll see you soon…

The Coronavirus is having an uncertain effect on the shops, bars, restaurants and venues that we serve. We are still here championing our local cities and getting good feedback on what we’re doing.

Nevertheless, many organisations are uncertain of the shape of the near future.

We are supporting where we can and we will continue to support our local towns and high street in whatever way possible.

We’ve been busy telling people about what we do – and now we’re happy to let everyone know that we’ve entered into a couple of partnerships that we can bring value to.

The first is to use our platform to provide content and information to over 1 million local users (and growing fast) over a number of UK cities. We’re in discussions to determine the shape of the roll out – so watch this space as we quickly expand city by city.

The second is our first fully outsourced location where we have partnered with a local organisation to provide access to our technology platform and they perform the local marketing. This is a first of many such partnerships for us.

We’re excited to be moving forward quickly with both our partners.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since we put the app out to limited public test.

We now have active communities who are using the app successfully to drive engagement.

Thank you so much to everyone who has provided feedback.

Thank you also to the people who have recommended the app to a friend – we have more than trebled our initial targets and the number of people who are benefiting from our content grows by the day!

We’re now expanding our footprint into York and looking to see whether we can provide value to the people of York.

We’re pleased to announce that, following some really great feedback on the dscvr app – we’re now releasing it for limited public beta testing and concentrating on Leeds.

All our previous focus group members will be given the chance to upgrade to the release version of the app and we will be contacting everyone shortly.

Our aim is to get feedback from more people and we will work to get around everyone to get feedback.

The dscvr app is for you. 

Please let us know what you think and keep telling us how we can make it better.

We’ve been testing our new app and holding Focus groups to help us shape the experience and get real feedback.

We’re looking for new people to help us test our new app and give us candid views, improvements and suggestions.

We’re looking for people who have 1-2 hours spare within the next 2 weeks. You’ll be asked to join a small group in a relaxed and professional environment and to download our new app to your phone.

You’ll then be asked a series of questions which we would like you to answer candidly. Then we’ll have a short discussion session to wrap up.

There will be free food and refreshments during the session and we’ll keep your results anonymous.

Specifically, we’re looking for:

  • Students
  • Working professionals
  • NHS workers
  • Independent shop owners

Please contact us here to register your interest and we’ll contact you back to arrange attendance at one of our groups.