A consultation on tightening the planning rules for casinos was announced by ODPM Minister, Baroness Andrews today.

Currently casinos are classed as Amenity and Leisure facilities and can be converted into similar facilities such as cinemas or concert halls and vice versa, without the need for planning permission.

The government considers that the rules should be tightened to require land use change permission to ensure that local planning authorities maintain development control over casinos, and is therefore consulting on the following options, of which the third is the governments preferred option:

Option 1: No change; casinos to remain classed as Amenity and Leisure;

Option 2: Casinos to be removed from the Use Classes Order 1987, thus removing permitted development rights;

Option 3: Casinos to be granted permitted development rights allowing their conversion into other leisure facilities, but not vice versa.

Baroness Andrews said:

"Tightening the system means that planners can ensure that casinos are in the interests of the local community by placing a requirement on developers to seek permission before converting other leisure facilities into casinos.

"We welcome responses from all interested parties and we will announce our proposals later this year."

The consultation will close on 21 October 2005.

Notes to Editors:

1. The consultation document Possible Changes to The Use Classes Order; Casinos has been published today. Copies can be obtained from: ODPM Publications, PO Box 236, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS23 7NB, T: 0870 122 6236, e:

Copies can also be found on the ODPM website at: under consultation papers.

2. Responses to the consultation should be sent to Funmi Wood, ODPM, Planning Development Control Division, Zone 4/H1, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU

3. The Town and Country (Use Classes) Order 1987 (the UCO) sets out classes of use, changes within which do not require planning permission due to the similarity in their impact on local amenity, for example: traffic generation, noise, and visual appearance.

4. Casinos are currently classified within the D2: Amenity and Leisure use class. This means that casinos may be converted to other D2 uses, such as cinemas or concert halls, or vice-versa, and would not be considered a change of use requiring planning permission.

5. However, any proposals for casinos that involve new development including regional casinos will require planning permission.

6. At the time of the 2002 UCO review, casinos had negligible impact on residential amenity because of the industrys licensing and operational requirements. Accordingly, the paper did not suggest any changes to the classification for casinos.

7. However, with the introduction of the Gambling Bill (now the Gambling Act 2005), raised concerns that changes to licensing arrangements could result in a proliferation of casinos. Following the second report of the Joint Scrutiny Committee, the ODPM agreed to undertake a review the Use Classes Order as regards casinos and in November 2004, Tessa Jowell announced that the Government was "minded to" require casinos to be subject to planning control.

8. In consequence, the ODPM commissioned Roger Tym and Partners to conduct a review of the UCO in respect of casinos. This consultation paper comes out that review, which was completed in January 2005. The researchers recommended a change to the UCO in respect of casinos for the following reasons:

* to control proliferation should the licensing policy change;

* to reflect the unique nature of casinos, following the Gambling Act;

* to manage uncertainty;

* to derive effective controls mitigating against adverse impacts;

* to try to capture regeneration benefits.

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