Ipswich: Welcome for new betting laws from council leader
PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 May 2014
Government proposals to bring in tough laws to curb the growth in betting shops have been welcomed by Ipswich Borough Council.
Leader David Ellesmere said proposals that betting shops should require specific planning permission would make it much easier to restrict their growth.
But he acknowledged that a change in the law would not affect the current state of the high street, which has seen a big growth in the number of bookies that have opened in the town over recent years.
Local authorities are to be given more power to control the number of betting shops opening in their area as part of a government review of gambling policy.
Bookies who want to open shops will have to submit a planning application and local councils will be able to refuse applications and stop new betting shops opening in their area.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said local communities had expressed concerns about the clustering of betting shops on some high streets.
The current system classes a betting shop in the same category as a bank or estate agent, meaning they can open without the need for a planning application when a premises becomes vacant.
Mr Ellesmere said: “We have been powerless to stop the opening of new betting shops, and the Labour Party has been calling for this change for some time.
“I am pleased the government has finally listened to our concerns, but the horse has bolted somewhat. However I do think we have seen the high water mark of betting shops on the high street – so this is welcome.”
Planning minister Nick Boles said: “This Government is taking action to support healthy and vibrant local high streets.
“This is part of a wider set of measures designed to get empty and redundant buildings back into productive use and make it easier for valued town centre businesses like shops, banks and cafes to open new premises, while giving councils greater powers to tackle the harm to local amenity caused by a concentration of particular uses.”