Legislation came into force on 10 February 2017 to establish new controls over betting shops and pay day lenders in Scotland.
In essence, any change of use of premises to a bookmakers or a pay day loan shop will now require planning permission.
Previously these types of businesses fell within Class 2 of the Use Classes Order and so benefited from the permitted development rights accorded to financial and other professional services falling within this Use Class.
The new legislation comes after the Scottish Government’s consultation in August 2014 about proposed reforms to the planning system aimed at reducing the numbers of pay day lenders and betting offices in town and city centres.
Planning authorities will have to consider applications for such new premises against relevant LDP policies, guidance and, of course, SPP which provides that LDPs should include policies to prevent the “over-provision and clustering” of “betting offices and high interest money lending premises” – the trigger for the Scottish Government’s original consultation.
The equivalent Use Classes Order in England and Wales has already been amended to classify bookmakers and pay day loan shops as ‘sui generis’ so that any change to these uses will also require planning permission. But while this might have stopped the proliferation of such businesses, it is not clear that there has been a significant impact on the underlying issues of gambling and personal debt south of the border.
While financial regulation and gambling remain matters within the UK Government’s control, we may yet see measures through either the licensing or tax regimes in a further attempt to reduce the numbers of existing pay day loan and gambling premises.