Fears that new rules will see more payday loan companies and betting shops flooding the borough
- Credit: Archant
Kilburn councillor Mike Katz raises concerns over abolition of planning permission requirements
High interest loan companies and betting shops could soon “swarm into the borough” at an unprecedented rate, draining the life from high streets, it has been claimed.
Under new governmental rules, introduced last week, business owners and developers will no longer need to consult with residents or get planning permission to change the use of buildings.
The news has sparked fears that the borough’s high streets, already home to a large number of high interest loan shops, could become overrun with firms seeking to open in vulnerable areas.
Cllr Mike Katz, Labour councillor for the Kilburn ward on Camden Council, said: “If you look at high streets you can see that loan and betting shops are the most commonplace – not just in Kilburn but across the borough.
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“With these new laws these shops can theoretically swarm into the borough at a much faster rate than we have seen before.”
According to Cllr Katz there are 12 recognised loan companies in Kilburn High Road alone but many other shops offering similar services.
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He added: “This comes at a time when cuts are being made to benefits and some will inevitably seek to use these services who may not understand the full ramifications and how much they may have to pay back.”
Pay day loan companies, dubbed legal loan sharks, have come in for criticism for their extortionate interest rates, with some believed to charge around 4,000 per cent interest on a basic loan.
In response to the laws, which came into force on May 30, the Local Government Association (LGA), a cross-party organisation which works on behalf of councils to ensure they have a voice, has suggested that local areas should decide where it would be beneficial to relax planning rules.
Tony Antonio, chairman of shopkeeper’s association for Willesden and a hairdresser in High Road, said: “We should be focusing on what will bring people to the area rather than drive people away.”
However, Nick Boles, planning minister, claimed the new laws would “help increase footfall.”
He said: “The alternative is boarded up, empty buildings which create a cycle of decline.
“Councils have powers under the Gambling Act to licence betting shops and address problems by individual premises.”