Betting shops could be subject to tougher planning rules under new Government proposals that would give local authorities more control over the make-up of their high streets says commercial property agent Prop-Search.
Under the proposals, which are expected to take affect from October this year, bookmakers looking to open premises would be required to submit a planning application, giving local councils the opportunity to refuse plans.
Samantha Jones, a Surveyor at Prop-Search, said: “The measure is designed to give greater power to local authorities to control the number of high street betting shops in their area. The Department for Communities and Local Government is to formally consult on the plans as part of a wider consultation on planning law issues this summer.”
The move is part of the Government’s broader planning reform, with the intention to create a smaller planning use class containing betting shops that will mean where it is proposed to convert a bank, building society or estate agencies into a betting shop, a planning application will, in future, be required. In addition, the Government intends to remove the ability for other premises such as restaurants and pubs to change use to a betting shop without requiring planning permission. All changes of use to a betting shop will therefore require planning permission.
Samantha added; "Existing planning legislation lays out different classifications on the use of property. Traditionally betting shops have fallen within the same 'use class' as banks and estate agencies which has meant that gambling operators have been attracted towards converting old banks or building society branches into betting shops because doing so did not constitute a change of use of the property."
"Under the new plans, gambling operators will have to jump through the planning permission hoops in every case where they intend to open a new shop. The approach could potentially see the number of betting shops curbed in areas where there is a lot of local hostility towards them. However, at a time when banks are increasing shutting branches, local authorities face a challenge in balancing views that oppose the proliferation of betting shops with the need to ensure that retail units on the high street do not lie empty.”
Further information or advice can be obtained from Prop-Search - Tel: 01933 223300 / 01604 492000 or its website: www.prop-search.com