New rules designed to reinvigorate the country's high streets could see them overrun with betting shops and payday loan companies, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.
The Government is cutting red tape from today in a move to return redundant buildings to productive use on the recommendation of retail guru Mary Portas.
Owners and developers will no longer need permission to change the use of certain buildings from one type of business to another for up to two years.
However the LGA believes the reforms will reduce local residents' ability to have a say on changes in their area and risk "draining the life from high streets".
The LGA warned that premises previously used as independent gift shops "could be turned into payday loan companies" while greengrocers "could become betting shops" without the need for planning permission or public consultation.
It also raised the prospect of developers being allowed to convert offices into flats without planning consent.