Call for Bradford action to stop bookies' ‘clustering’

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, wants local authorities to be given more powers to prevent clustering of certain types of premises on the high street.

This could include betting shops and strip clubs, which are hitting the economic growth of local high streets, according to most council officers surveyed by the LGA.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, vice-chairman of the LGA’s environment and housing board, said: “These figures show that councils believe that the clustering of premises such as betting shops, fast food outlets and strip clubs is hitting economic growth.

“The general public are less likely to shop on high streets with clustering, while businesses may be less willing to set up on roads with clusters of unsavoury takeaways and raunchy sex shows.

"While it is positive that the Government response to the Mary Portas High Street review accepted many of the views raised by town halls, tackling clustering remains an ongoing concern. Town halls and local people are calling on the Government to reform the tools available to councils to make local planning decisions that can prevent unwelcome clustering hitting economic growth.”

At present, councils are powerless to prevent certain properties on the high street being changed into bookies. The tool at their disposal, an Article 4 Direction, is unwieldy and bureaucratic.

Councils must give bookies a year’s notice under the powers – or face making substantial compensation payments.

This has resulted in councils being virtually powerless to shape high streets in the interests of local people.

Councils want to see a shakeup of these Article 4 Directions and to see the introduction of a new local planning use class for premises of potential future local concern.

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