Planning changes to "stop the spread of betting shops on Cornwall’s high streets" have been announced.

The move to tighten planning controls follows concerns that Cornwall Council was "powerless to act on community concerns" over an increase in the number of betting shops.

Together with Local Works and other like-minded councils across the country, Cornwall Council is using the Sustainable Communities Act to bring about "important" changes to existing legislation "for the benefit of Cornwall".

The council was one of a handful of local authorities who added their weight to a campaign that has succeeded in bringing about tighter planning controls for betting shops.

The council says that ineffective licensing and planning laws meant the Council was powerless to act on community concerns and stop the spread of betting shops on Cornwall’s high streets.

Today’s announcement by the government will require planning applications to be submitted for new betting shops where there is a change of use.

Betting shop operators will also have to set out how they plan to comply with social responsibility codes when applying for a gambling premises licence.

Edwina Hannaford, the council’s cabinet member for environment, heritage and planning, said: “Despite the economy showing clear signs of recovery, the scale of problem debt in Cornwall remains significant. It felt very wrong that there wasn’t more control over when and where betting shops can open and that local communities don’t have any opportunity to influence this.

"I am delighted that councils and the communities they serve will now have a greater say on what businesses fill their high streets.”

The council is also supporting a proposal from Local Works, coalition of over 100 national organisations campaigning to promote the use the new Sustainable Communities Act, to force the Government to consider introducing powers to apply an additional business rate levy on large retailers.

The proposal would mirror the move already made by the Northern Ireland Assembly where legislation has been passed which would introduce a similar levy on large retail stores, based on an 8.5 per cent levy on retail outlets with a rateable value above £500,000.

This has enabled 8,000 small and medium sized business to benefit from reduced rates.

“Applying the Northern Ireland model for the additional business rate levy on large retailers in Cornwall would have the potential to raise an additional income of approximately £3m each year” said Jeremy Rowe, cabinet member for devolution and localism.

“This could bring a real boost to help smaller businesses and help our high streets. It’s early days in exploring whether this could be achieved here, but we are minded to back Local Works and make a case to Government under the Sustainable Communities Act once there is the level of support required from other councils.”