Today, the government published their response to the Portas review into High Streets where they rejected the proposal to change the planning category of betting shops.
The Portas Review, published in December last year, had originally proposed to change the planning use class of betting shops from “A2” to sui generis (a category all of its own). This would mean every prospective betting shop would have to apply for planning permission, giving the local council and local residents the chance to consider the cumulative impact of multiple shops clustered together.
In her review, Mary Portas said that “…the influx of betting shops, often in more deprived areas, is blighting our high streets…. Currently, betting shops are oddly and inappropriately in my opinion classed as financial and professional services. Having betting shops in their own class would mean that we can more easily keep check on the number of betting shops on our high streets”. In their response to the review, the government rejected the need for this change in Use Classes, claiming that councils already have the necessary powers.
Currently, betting shops are in Use Class A2, grouped alongside banks, estate agents and other financial services. This means they can open up in any building that was previously in the A2 Use Class or the A3 (Restaurants and Cafes), A4 (Pubs and Bars) and A5 (Hot Food Takeaways) without the need for any planning permission. This means that in Haringey, betting shops have access to 45% of all shop fronts without the need for any planning permission whatsoever, meaning the local council and residents are powerless.
David Lammy, who tried to amend the Localism Bill last year to change the Use Class of betting shops, said:
“I am seriously disappointed with the government’s response to the Portas Review. It is clear from the review and from what thousands of people are saying across the country that betting shops are taking over their local high streets. ENDS
“The government have completely ignored their concerns and have squandered the opportunity to change the law to give local people the power to say ‘no’ to more betting shops.”
“At the moment, the board members of an international bookmaking firm have more say about the look and feel of our high streets sitting behind the desk of a Mediterranean tax haven than the people that live there.”
1. The government response to the Portas Review can be found here (betting shops are dealt with on page 16): http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/regeneration/pdf/2120019.pdf
2. The original Portas review, which was published in December 2011, can be found here (betting shops are dealt with on page 29): http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/regeneration/pdf/2081646.pdf
3. More information on David Lammy’s amendment to the Localism Bill can be found here: http://www.davidlammy.co.uk/Powers_to_stop_betting_shop_proliferation_blocked_