Hackney Council’s planning proposal to tackle ‘bookie blight’ adopted nationally
- Credit: Archant
Gambling firms will now find it harder to open new betting shops, after a change in national planning law adopted Hackney Council’s proposal to deem them a planning class in their own right.
The move follows an eight-year campaign by the council, which has lobbied successive governments calling for councils to have more powers over betting shops.
Previously they were categorised as A2, meaning a firm could take over a range of businesses, from shops, to banks, cafés, pubs and takeaways, and convert them into a bookies without needing planning permission.
Councils were left powerless to intervene and it led to a proliferation of 58 betting shops across Hackney, with eight in Mare Street alone, despite many residents not wanting them.
In February last year the council proposed giving bookies their own planning use class, through the Sustainable Communities Act.
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The submission received cross-party support from boroughs across London and 35 councils outside the capital.
Hackney Council also wrote to the then Planning Minister Nick Boles asking for the change, set up an online petition to the then Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, and advised residents on how to respond to the government’s planning consultation last summer.
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Hackney’s elected mayor, Jules Pipe, said: “This change represents a real victory for Hackney and local government as a whole, and demonstrates what councils and residents can achieve when they unite for a cause.
“Hackney Council, along with local authorities across the country, has long been calling on government to give us the tools to better tackle the blight of bookies in our high streets. At last ministers have listened to the overwhelming weight of public and council opinion against the betting shop free-for-all.
“Our campaigning has never been about banning betting shops, and these changes don’t mean we can now close down existing betting shops.
“However, they do mean we have a say on future proposals to turn yet another shop, bank or pub into a bookies, and decisions can be based on what best suits our high streets and communities, rather than the profits of gambling firms.”