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.