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Government Proposes Changes to Use Class for Betting Shops

Department for Communities and Local Government launches Technical Planning Consultation

“On the 31 July 2014, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched a technical consultation on planning.

The DCLG state the proposed reforms aim to make the ‘planning system work more efficiently’ and give communities more ‘power in planning local development’.

The consultation seeks views on proposals, which will:

  • expand permitted development rights;
  • improve the use of planning conditions and enable development to start more quickly;
  • improve engagement with statutory consultees;
  • remove unnecessary bureaucracy and reduce the cost and time taken to get planning permission;
  • expand the number of non-planning consents which can be included within a development consent order.

However, proposed regulatory changes will effectively create a separate use class for betting premises, providing that appropriate planning permission be obtained before a change of use is permitted.

Changes of use within planning classes do not require planning permission, such as changes within class A1, which includes shops, warehouses, hair dressers, sandwich bars and internet cafes. Class A2 currently contains financial and professional services such as banks, building societies, solicitors and betting offices. Proposals provide that a wider A1 use class be created, incorporating the majority of financial and professional services that are currently found in class A2, effectively restricting the A2 class to betting premises and pay day loan shops.

The consultation states that the current planning use class for betting shops is no longer appropriate as it reflects the historic operational model for the industry. The consultation identifies that the industry has grown and that the offer made to customers has significantly changed, with particular regard to the provision of high stakes gaming machines. The consultation states that the greater prominence of betting premises on the high street means that their land use impact could be considered to be different from other uses within the current A2 class, justifying why betting premises will not benefit from the proposed increased flexibility.

The Government also proposes to make changes to the General Permitted Development Order 1995 and remove the existing permitted development rights available for class A premises for a change of use to the A2 class.

The consultation accepts that the proposals ‘may add some costs and delay to business wishing to open new betting shops’ and states that while its aim is to ‘streamline the planning system’, the Government considers that this is an important way in which it can ‘support local communities and local planning authorities in shaping their local area’.

The consultation closes on 26 September 2014 and further details can be found here.

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