When Betfred appealed against Lewisham Council's decision to reject its application for 93-95 Deptford High Street earlier this year, the Planning Inspectorate in fact allowed Betfred's appeal but placed certain conditions on it.
If you remember, the former Halifax premises was allocated to A2 use, with the condition that it was only occupied by a building society. Betfred applied to widen this to the full, current A2 use, a crazy classification for 'financial use' which puts banks and building societies in the same class as betting shops.
When the council rejected this application, Betfred appealed it. The Planning Inspectorate allowed the appeal, but with the proviso that the premises should NOT be occupied by a betting shop. In his conclusion the inspector said that if another betting shop were to open, "It would be likely to give rise to anti-social behaviour and disturbance to local residents and users of the town centre. There is also a risk of an increase in crime. As a result use of the High Street would become less safe and pleasant."
Betfred has now submitted another planning application to again extend the usage class to full A2 use, supporting its application with the defence that it was unfair of the inspector to penalise Betfred for a situation that already exists. Naturally this deliberate misinterpretation of the inspector's decision is simply an attempt to say 'they are all doing it, why can't we?' and invoke fairness of competition etc as a way of forcing the issue.
Of course the inspector has nothing against Betfred per se. As befits his job responsibilities, he simply took an holistic view of the planning case, and considered the impact that allowing this application would have on Deptford High Street, the people who live and work there, those who own the businesses, those who use the shops and cafes, and those who pass through Deptford.
The inspector used evidence from local residents and business owners, and from the police, licensing officers and so on, to reach his conclusion that the opening of another betting shop would not be beneficial to the safety of the high street, to the level of crime, or to the street's long term viability. In fact he went further than that, he said that it was likely to have a negative impact based on past evidence.
All the betting shops already established on Deptford High Street claim that they adhere to the appropriate legislation and security measures that they are required to observe. It's more than likely that they do. However it is undeniable that since Paddy Power opened its establishment at the former Deptford Arms, right opposite Ladbrokes and within yards of William Hill, creating a critical mass of betting shops, the high street has become a less safe and pleasant place to walk along.
So please, if you agree that we don't need any more betting shops, send your objections to the planners. The application is number DC/11/78506/X (click to link direct to it) and objections should be sent as soon as possible.
If you objected to the last application, feel free to dig out your previous letter and just amend the date and planning application number before sending it in (in the comments Bill suggests that it would be better to amend any previous objection, starting your letter along the lines of 'in my objection dated XXX I said (and here quote your previous objection in full) and reiterating that the same concerns apply now). It is worth reading the covering letter from the applicant (click here to download) if you want to ensure that you are directly addressing the points that they raise.
The full text of the inspector's judgement can be read on Deptford Misc here.