‘Tighten planning law’ to tackle Leeds payday shops

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Campaigners are calling for a change in planning legislation, which would make it harder for payday lenders from setting up in force in some of Leeds’s most vulnerable communities.

Former MP John Battle, who has lobbied against the rise of loan sharks and payday lenders for many years, says a loophole in current planning policy is a major contributor to the rise of such organisations in the city .

In the suburb of Cross Gates alone, TEN such shops have opened up, with two in recent weeks.

Campaigners say the quick-fix loan shops are avoiding a ‘change of use’ planning application by renting former shops involved in finance, such as estate agents, banks, insurance offices or travel agents.

Mr Battle said tighter restrictions were needed on the businesses, to bring them in line with rules on banks.

“Planning use classification should be changed to classify them like they do banks,” he said.

“If you were a bank you would have to get special permission.

“These shops suck an inordinate amount of money out of the community without putting anything back in.” Council bosses have recently pledged to stop the rise in pay day loan shops springing up across Leeds.

Yesterday, civil servants, charity bosses and politicians gathered in force for a conference at Leeds Civic Hall on high cost lending.

There were presentations from experts and practical discussion on the development of locally-based campaigns to tackle the issue.

In September the council agreed a white paper motion in relation to high cost lenders and council bosses are already discussing measures to stop some of the city’s poorest families from being trapped in a cycle of poverty and debt.

The YEP has previously revealed that up to 60,000 people in Leeds could be forced to use high-interest lenders. Around 22,500 people are believed to have taken out payday loans to pay their bills.

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