HIGH Streets in Thurrock could be (more) overrun by betting shops and payday lenders under new planning rules, local councils have warned.
The owners of certain premises no longer have to apply for permission for a change of use from Thursday (May 30th).
The government says the move will boost economic growth and bring boarded-up shops back into use.
But the Local Government Association calls it a “panic measure” that will cause “lasting damage” to High Streets.
The change in planning law is designed to encourage “pop-up” shops or restaurants, which take over empty premises for a short period of time, helping to revive ailing town centres.
LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell told the BBC that: “He also wanted to boost trade but the changes would rob local people of a say over the character of their High Streets and could have serious “unintended consequences” in some areas.
We hope these changes will speed up regeneration while still maintaining vital protections for vulnerable town centres”
Local authorities are already powerless to prevent bookmakers and payday lenders opening up on High Streets says Sir Merrick, which has led to the “clustering” of such businesses, often in low income areas.
“We have problems already – you might look at somewhere like Tottenham High Road in Haringey (in London) – they’ve got 11 betting shops in the centre of that High Street under the current rules, because in planning terms we can’t tell the difference between a bank, a betting shop or indeed a payday loan company.
“Now with the changes coming in today, shops that are currently normal shops or cafes or restaurants could also be turned into betting shops without any say whatsoever.”