Property developers in London will have to set aside a proportion of new retail space for independent shops under a proposal put forward by Boris Johnson.

The mayor yesterday attracted a mixed response to his plan that claims to protect small retailers from the march of larger chains by guaranteeing 'affordable' space. Both the British Retail Consortium and the British Property Federation adopted a sceptical stance.

The BRC said it was 'not yet clear whether this would help smaller retailers and would not, in fact, undermine existing retailers of all sizes'. The BPF, representing developers, said: 'Any subsidised retail space in a shopping centre would have an impact on rents for other tenants, as well as for the investor and landlord itself.'

But some independent stores argued that help was needed to prevent a raft of insolvencies and the continuing trend towards 'clone' high streets, with the same multiple retailers.

Financial Times