Consultation on betting shop planning changes launched

ladbrokesshopThe Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has launched a technical consultation into proposed further planning reforms, outlining proposals for a wide range of changes aimed at simplifying and speeding up the planning process, although there are opposite repercussions for betting shops.

The consultation is seeking views on the proposal to make a regulatory change to require a planning application for any change of use to a betting shop or pay day loan shop; in essence removing the other financial services in the A2 planning class into the A1 class and leaving betting shops behind in A2.

The consultation states: “The Budget signalled the Government’s intention to make changes to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, to form a wider retail class, containing shops, banks and estate agents etc, but excluding betting shops and pay day loan shops. Our announcement on 30 April on gambling controls stated our intention that any change of use to a betting shop will in future require a planning application. Building on this we propose that the change of use to a pay day loan shop should also require a planning application.”

It explains: “Betting shops are named within the A2 use class as ‘betting offices’. This reflects their traditional offer of placing bets over the counter. However, the industry has grown and the offer to customers has changed significantly in particular through the offer of high stakes gaming machines (fixed odds betting terminals). Their expanded offer and greater prominence on the high street mean that their land use impact could now be considered to be different from other uses within the current A2. It is therefore proposed that betting shops (defined as holding a betting premises license under section 150 of Gambling Act 2005) will remain in the A2 use class and not benefit from the flexibilities.”

The consultation said that it is recognised that this proposal may ‘add some costs and delay’ to business wishing to open new betting shops or pay day loan shops in premises that are currently within other use classes, adding: “While our overall aim is to simplify and streamline the planning system, we consider that this is an important way in which to support local communities and local planning authorities in shaping their local area.”

It also said that while the overall package of proposals will bring cost savings and other benefits, the removal of permitted development rights in respect of betting shops is a regulatory measure. “Engagement with interested parties in the betting industry suggests that there will be an impact on the ease with which new premises can open.”

The consultation will run until 26 September, even though the recommended timescales for consultations is three months. Interested stakeholders can make their views known online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JKMX63K

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