On 16 April 2015 the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2015 and the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order come into force. Between them these new provisions will have a substantial effect on our high streets – and especially on bookmakers and pay day loan companies.

The amendment to the Use Classes Order takes betting offices and pay day loan shops out of A2 (financial services), instead making them expressly sui generis uses. This means that planning permission will be required for all new betting shops and pay day loan shops, even if such new units are just a change of use from an A2 use (which would previously have been permitted development).

At the same time, greater flexibility is being introduced on the High Street in the new permitted development order which, among many other things, will permit the change of use from A1 (shop) to a use within the new reduced use class A2. (There has long been a permitted development right to go from A2 to A1 and that right is retained.) In addition a permitted development right is introduced to change betting offices and pay day loan shops to any Class A1 or Class A2 use so that landlords are not unduly restricted as to their next tenant when a betting office lease comes to an end.

This new regime is by no means a bar on the opening of betting shops and pay day loan shops. It merely means that an application will need to be made to the local planning authority for planning permission. The government is responding to a perception that there has been a proliferation of new betting offices and pay day loan shops in recent years, and the intention is to ‘give the community a voice’ that should be heard when plans for a new use of this type are proposed. It is likely, however, that Local Authorities will take time to come to terms with this change to the use classes. Existing policies will need to be updated in order to take into account the exclusion of betting office and pay day loan shop from Class A2.

High streets have, of course, been through a difficult few years with a combination of the recession and the huge growth of online retail sales both contributing to high vacancy rates for shop units. It is to be hoped that these new provisions will assist in the recovery of our town centres and high streets.