Welcoming the announcement from the Local Government Association that councils should be able to decide for themselves via the planning system whether betting shops are needed (published 1 February) Freddie Gick, Chair of Civic Voice said:

“For too long we have seen local amenities being replaced by endless numbers of bookmakers. This has been a big concern for Civic Voice members across England. The support from the Local Government Association is a welcome development for those communities that want more local control over their high streets.”

The Local Government Association announced today (1 February) that they would like to see councils given the power to address the concerns of local communities caused by the clustering of betting shops in their area.
Gick said “We are not opposed to development and the evolving of our high streets, but within the often very broad use classes categorising the different uses of buildings and land, some surprising changes of use can have major impacts on communities – for example, changes from a pub to a pawnbroker or a bank to a betting shop can currently occur with no voice for the local community. We believe the planning system can be amended to ensure local communities can have a say on whether betting shops are right for them.

Currently, bookmakers can open up in the same premises as a bank, estate agent, pub, takeaway or restaurant without the need for any planning permission. Changing the planning category would force any new betting shop to require planning permission first, giving councils and residents the statutory support they need for greater local control on this issue.

Gick finished “The solution is simple – take betting shops out of the current Use Class arrangements. Make them separate entities and always require specific planning permission for them. That way councils can decide for themselves what is best for their local area after giving the community the opportunity to voice their concerns. Civic Voice would welcome supporting any MPs with an interest in introducing this Use Class change to the planning system".