New controls on pay day lending and betting shops

Planning permission required to open up on the high street.

Betting operators and pay day lenders will be subject to increased planning controls on Scotland’s high streets, Planning Minister Kevin Stewart has announced.

In recognition of concerns raised by communities across Scotland, legislation laid in Parliament this week will help reduce the negative impact betting shops and pay day lenders have on town centres.

The new legislation will mean anyone intending to change the use of a premises to a betting shop or providing pay day loan services is now likely to have to apply to their local planning authority for permission. Previously, some shops or services on the high street could easily be transformed into betting offices without needing any planning permission.

There are currently over 1000 betting offices and pay day lending premises across Scotland.

Mr Stewart said:

“We are taking a strong stance against payday loan companies and problem gambling, which are not only a blight on our high streets but exploit people to finance credit they just cannot afford.

“We have listened to communities and ultimately, we want to avoid the negative impacts on town centre and shopping areas, many of which are overwhelmed by pay day lenders and betting premises in their area.

“Increased controls on new pay day lending businesses will help prevent more people being driven into poverty, and give planning authorities more control over ensuring our town centres are attractive places for people to live, work and visit.”


Concerns have been expressed in recent years about the levels of problem gambling and personal indebtedness and the prevalence of betting offices and premises selling high interest short term loans – often referred to as pay day lending (PDL).

The regulation of financial services is a reserved matter for the UK Government and Parliament.  The power to legislate on the regulation of gambling also remains largely reserved to the UK Government and Parliament. 

However, the Scottish Government is taking steps within its current devolved powers to address concerns about these matters where it can through changes the to Use Classes Order, introduced through The Town and Country Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Order 2016. 


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