Could Government plans lead to more LBOs?

29/08/2012

Ministers’ plans to encourage entrepreneurs to apply for planning permission for pop-up shops could lead to more betting shops in UK high streets claims The Daily Mail.

In a typically alarmist article, the paper claims that the Government’s plans to rip up red tape for vacant retail space could also let bookies in by the back door. Residents will lose the right to object to the opening of a betting shop through their town hall’s planning system.

Ministers intend to scrap requirements for fledgling retailers to apply for planning permission before setting up temporary shops in empty retail spaces.

The move is designed to attract shoppers back to town centres blighted by the recession. But the fine print of the Government’s consultation says that ‘appropriate temporary use’ would include betting shops as well as employment agencies, banks, restaurants, cafes, offices and retail spaces.

The government’s plans to reinvigorate town centres means that retailers can do away with the normal red tape for two years when using vacant retail space.

Bookies can set up in former banks, building societies or pubs without the need for planning permission under current rules. But the proposal would open up the entire high street to betting shops, who would be able to set up ‘temporary’ branches in a far bigger range of premises.

Labour MP David Lammy, who has hit out at the proliferation of betting shops in his North London constituency Tottenham, said: ‘Relaxed planning restrictions are there to encourage new, independent stores that add vibrancy and diversity on the high street, not give bookmakers yet another loophole to exploit in their takeover of British high streets.’

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: ‘Current licensing rules under the Gambling Act remain in place and a new requirement to notify the local authority of any change of use will ensure that inappropriate development doesn’t take place.

‘On top of this, local authorities already have a range of powers available to tackle any local problems where the impact of betting shops has become unacceptable.The proposals are about giving young entrepreneurs the chance to start new businesses by making it easier and cheaper to temporarily bring empty shops back into use, supporting regeneration of high streets.’

 

 

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