Betting shops boom as UK loses 1.7 million sq ft retail space

Record number of planning application for bookmakers approved as retailers lose out

The UK lost out on a record amount of retail space in 2013, as 1.7 million square feet of space was allocated for other uses, according to a new report.

A study released today by commercial property publication Estates Gazette found that the UK lost enough retail space to fill London’s Westfield shopping centre as developers sought to change it to other uses, representing a rise of 61% on the previous year.

Betting shops were the biggest winner in the re-allocation of retail space by number of permissions, with 106 new shops approved through changes of use.

Earlier this month, the Local Government Association called for greater powers to protect against the spread of betting shops across the UK, but the Gazette’s data shows that councils permitted around 80% of applications to open new betting shops – with the North West in particular approving 11 out of 11 applications.

London was the lowest, permitting 40% of applications by bookmakers.

In terms of space, leisure operators took over nearly two-thirds of shop space lost, or 1.3m square feet.

In the twelve months to the end of June 2013, betting shops market share rose to more than 9% – from 4% in the same period in 2008. Bookmaker Ladbrokes was the UK’s fourth biggest retailer in 2013, according to Estate Gazette’s own data.

The findings were published as part of Estate Gazettes’ retail rankings, which track the retailers taking the most space in the UK each year.

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