Boris asks for planning policy change to rein in betting shops

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has asked communities secretary Eric Pickles to alter national planning policy to control the proliferation of betting shops.

Betting shops: concern over proliferation
Betting shops: concern over proliferation

Johnson wrote to Pickles today to propose that betting shop operators wishing to open up a new outlet should be required to apply for planning permission for the chosen premises. He said that this would "allow proper consideration to be given to each proposal for a betting shop and its effect on individual centres".

At present, premises such as vacant banks and pubs do not require planning permission to be used as a betting shop. There has been growing concern that increasing numbers of betting shops are damaging town centres.

The mayor said that if the government changed planning policy in this way he would consider altering the capital’s strategic planning document the London Plan policy to "encourage boroughs to identify the kinds of business clusters they believe are beneficial or detrimental to high streets and town centres".

Johnson said: "I recognise that betting shops have an important role to play in our culture and provide entertainment to many people. But there is a balance to be struck between having betting shops as a part of the high street retail mix and the negative impact they can have on shoppers and visitors when they start to dominate.

"Requiring operators to obtain planning permission seems a sensible way to achieve the checks and balances needed to ensure our towns remain attractive places to visit, shop and spend time in."

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