A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Use class craziness

Sometimes the law is an ass.

Like when planning law classifies a betting shop as the identical “use class” to a bank – so Corals, the new leaseholders of the historic 19th century Old Town Hall in Hackney's Narrow Way (last used as an HSBC bank) do not even need to apply to planning for a change of use, and there is no scope legally for the Council to stop this usage, despite the fact that there is a massive oversupply of betting shops in central Hackney (an area with a huge amount of poverty and deprivation), and it runs totally counter to our efforts to regenerate the area.

The A2 use class covers “Financial and Professional Services" defined as "Banks, building societies, estate and employment agencies, professional and financial services, betting offices”.

If someone tries to convert a shop (use class A1) or restaurant (use class A3) into a betting shop (or indeed a bank) they have to ask for change of use permission from the planners - but not to convert a bank to a betting shop or vice versa (which is probably why Corals bought this particular property).

So I'm currently having to write back to numerous constituents who want me to stop this telling them that because some genius at DCLG thinks betting is the same "use class" as saving, there's nothing I can do to stop it.

Footnote: Our elected Mayor tells me Hackney Council tried to buy the building when the bank shut, so that it could be used to help the regeneration of central Hackney, but the freeholders refused to sell it to the council.


Blogger kris said...

Jeez, if only councillors would have paid as much attention to the change of use of the Vortex....

8:50 pm, February 12, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

We used to have a comrade here in Manchester who knew the whereabouts of every betting shop in the city, and being from Dalston a very large number of those in second-city Londinium.

Banks have extremely serious contributions to poverty and disadvantage.

- Some people cannot even get bank accounts, that's poor people;
- Charges fall on those least able to pay with those with plenty of money and lots of transactions often banking free;
- There is an issue with older people's handwriting changing and their use of intermediaries too - trapped by the money laundering and a by-product of Adam Crozier closing Post offices;
- Cumulatively charges can easily run into double figures over a single cheque book balancing mistake.

An example of the latter £20 plus £30 for going overdrawn by 10p and for returning one cheque, and then the same again the following months when the £50 kicks in and the £57 dole hasn't stretched. This too is outrageous.

Perhaps the DCMS would consider a regulation similar to those on concentration of bars for bookies? Otherwise the market may take care of it and the ones in the worst sites will close down and become, say, health clubs?

Or Hackney could give a hefty grant to a local advice agency, credit union, charity, furniture recyclers such as Emmaus etc etc to take up the next prime site leases that arise.

12:52 am, February 13, 2007

Blogger el tom said...

What you are embarking on is a return to class war, that can only cost the labour party it's electability.

12:52 am, February 13, 2007

Anonymous andy philkins said...

I think you'd better check the Land Registry, old mate. I think you'll find you are wrong about the ownership. The freehold belongs to a property investment company and a lease has been sold to a certain multi-faceted sports gaming company via one of its subsidiaries. And how come the previous refusals to grant planning permission for the antenna and internal works have suddenly been overturned and granted?

8:44 am, February 13, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

El Tom: Are you referring to Luke's crazy post, or my sensible one when you speak of "class war" you old trot spotter you? "Luke is a Trot. Official."

Andy Philkins: Spot on about the Land Registry. Searches are still free and anyone can. Unlike number plate searches which cost £2.50 though again anyone can make one. No qualification. Bunny boilers and road ragers welcome to apply.

Kris: Would the Vortex be, how you say?, a raving discoteque?

El Tom again: Please pass on my apologies to Sam who I wrongly identified as "Tom" at Didders.

9:17 am, February 13, 2007

Anonymous Mike said...

Can anyone please tell me the results in the Dalston Ward of Hackney council in 1998 and 2002?
The council website always seems to be frozen!

10:54 am, February 13, 2007

Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

How you been down this road yet Luke?


11:24 am, February 13, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


Dalston Ward result 2002:

Lab candidates got 1321, 1063, 1046
LDs got 438 and 362
Soc All got 267
Cons got 239, 225 and 221
CPA got 115

In 1998 the boundaries were different. The old Dalston ward returned 3 Lib Dems - they first gained a seat there in a 1996 by-election.

The boundary review mixed in I think over half of this Lib Dem ward with what was then by far the most Lib Dem part of Clissold (the Shelgrove Estate), which was a split Lab/LD ward in '98, and some Lab territory from the old Rectory and Westdown wards (of which Rectory had seen a strong LD performance in 1998).

Dalston was a "key seat" versus the LDs as far as Labour was concerned in Hackney in both '98 and '02.

1:10 pm, February 13, 2007

Anonymous Mike said...

Many thanks

5:03 pm, February 13, 2007

Anonymous observer's mate said...

Footnote: Our elected Mayor tells me Hackney Council tried to buy the building when the bank shut, so that it could be used to help the regeneration of central Hackney, but the freeholders refused to sell it to the council.

Based on Hackney Council's recent track record, would you trust the Council to buy a lovely old building from you and look after it?
Hackney Council's recent treatment of culturally important old buildings

12:35 pm, February 14, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I would strongly dispute that the Dalston Theatre was either "lovely" or "culturally important". Until the anarchists etc. occupied this building I had never heard of it and nor had any Hackney resident I had spoken to in the course of the best part of a decade. I had of course seen it -and thought why doesn't someone hurry up and demolish that derelict eyesore.

2:37 pm, February 14, 2007

Anonymous Mike said...

How come the Lib Dems only fielded two candidiates in Dalston in 2002?

4:56 pm, February 14, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Because we had destroyed their morale in a series of by-election wins between 1998-2002 which culminated in swings of 25-30% - they could only find 27 people prepared to stand borough-wide for 57 vacancies.

I'm assuming your questions may relate to Nargis Khan's candidature in Withington. I can assure you that she is as energetic and experienced an anti-Lib Dem campaigner as she says she is, and was active in other marginal wards as well as Dalston in both 2002 and 2006.

5:44 pm, February 14, 2007

Blogger Barrybbb said...

I must take issue with Luke about the Dalston Theatre. Ive heard of it. Even went there when it was the Gaumont Cinema.

Im quite critical with Hackney council about this matter. Instead of demolishing the building in 2007 it should have been knocked down at least 30 years ago.

6:41 pm, February 14, 2007


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