Bookmakers and payday lenders are to be subject to increased planning controls, Planning Minister Kevin Stewart has announced.

New regulations laid in the Holyrood Parliament this week will help reduce the negative impact betting shops and payday lenders have on town centres, in the wake of concerns raised about their proliferation in poorer areas.

While the regulation of financial services is a reserved matter under the devolution arrangements, Scottish ministers are introducing changes to the Use Classes Order, made under the planning legislation.

The changes will mean that anyone intending to change the use of premises to a betting shop or provider of payday loan services (high interest, short term loans) is likely to have to apply to their local planning authority for permission. Previously, some shops or services could easily be transformed into betting offices without needing any planning permission.

There are currently over 1,000 betting offices and pay day lending premises across Scotland.

Mr Stewart commented: “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 payday lenders and betting premises in their area.

“Increased controls on new payday 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.”