The use classes order, casinos and the gambling bill


Roger Tym & Partners (RTP) were appointed by the ODPM to undertake research into the town planning effects of the Gambling Bill on the casino industry. In particular, the research considers the possible use of amendments to the Use Classes Order (UCO), and to a lesser extent the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO), as means of providing an adequate balance of control over changes of use from other land uses to casinos and vice versa. At the time of undertaking the main research work, various Government announcements were made, thus moving the goalposts of our study to some degree. Details on the main milestones that the Bill has already passed, and relevant Government announcements, are provided in Appendix 1. In particular we stress that the Government's 888 strategy (i.e. to initially limit the number of regional, large and small casinos to eight in each category) was announced after all of our consultations and the greater part of the research write-up were completed. In strict planning terms, the key issues arising for the planning system from the new casinos which are likely to be generated by the Gambling Bill are location, regeneration benefits and consideration as to whether the UCO should be changed. In terms of location, within which we include amenity and neighbour-friendliness, the well established 'sequential test' will serve to guide decision-makers as to the most suitable location within any one town or area.. This and related, existing or amended, planning policies will address the issues of vitality and viability, physical appearance and impact, and amenity. The Use Classes Order, Casinos and the Gambling Bill. In terms of regeneration benefits, these will vary (probably quite considerably) depending on the location and size of any casino and whether it is part of a larger mixed use scheme. In terms of changing the UCO, we recommend a change to the UCO such that casinos are taken out from Class D2 and either all casinos are treated as sui generis, with no permitted development rights whatsoever, or all casinos are treated as sui generis, but permitted development rights are introduced to allow a casino to switch to any Class D2 use without the need for express planning permission. Either amendment would, in our view, create a reasonable degree of certainty and clarity for the both the planning system and operators. This is a matter on which the ODPM might wish to consider a consultation exercise. 'No change' is of course another option but one that would need to be addressed again if and when (and before) the 888 position is amended or dropped.

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