Monday 28 April 2014

New planning powers for councils against betting shops

More than four years since my first post about betting shops on this blog, and finally I read some vaguely good news about changes to planning powers. While the detail has still to be revealed, media reports suggest that planning law will be changed so that betting shops are classified separately to other 'financial' services, and local authorities will be given more power to refuse new betting shops where clustering is a concern.

Even four years ago Deptford High Street had six betting shops, but the subject of my post was the imminent loss of the Deptford Arms pub to Paddy Power. Within a very short time Paddy Power also took over the John Evelyn pub on Evelyn Street and turned that into another branch, presumably for those people incapable of staggering to any of the other three betting shops on the Evelyn triangle.

When the Halifax closed down its branch on Deptford High Street within weeks of Paddy Power's latest licence being granted, I predicted what would happen next; it was only due to a condition imposed when the previous planning application was granted that the planners were able to reject Betfred's attempts to open a branch in the empty unit. They had to reject it twice - Betfred was so determined to have its own branch on a street with so many that despite the first application being rejected, and the decision upheld by the Planning Inspectorate, they submitted a second application which was also rejected by the council and the Planning Inspectorate.

Since then things have gone rather quiet - cynically I suspect it's nothing to do with the success of our campaign, rather the fact that there's been a dearth of shop units with suitable business classifications for the betting shops to target.

As it stands at the moment, betting shops come in the same business classification as banks, building societies and other financial services, so if a bank closes down, the betting shop does not need to apply for any 'change of use' permission to use the same shop unit. Likewise if a pub closes, betting shops can move into those premises at the drop of a hat.

From what I'm reading, betting shops will be given a separate use class and hence will have to apply to convert old banks, pubs etc into new betting shops. And if councils are able to use the argument of 'clustering' of betting shops as a reason to reject an application, so much the better.

Any change to the law can't come soon enough - the Harp of Erin at the bottom of the high street has been closed for some time now, and many locals fear that we will be seeing it reopen as a betting shop before too long.


The Grim Reaper said...

"it was only due to an unusual clause in the original lease for the building society that the planners were able to reject Betfred's attempts to open a branch in the empty unit."

No, it was because of the diligence of an unknown LB Lewisham town planner in the early 1970s, who imposed a condition that effectively meant if it ceased to be a building society then it reverted to retail use.

vesper said...

@Bill Ellson

Good to see you again last Friday at Deptford Town Hall for the 'Turning the tide' event.

I was sorry that you left and didn't take part in the workshop, one of the artists told me on the bus home that you laughed when one of the male academics claimed that it was Margaret Thatcher who gave London the Thames Barrier, and saved Deptford from the recent high tides.

I recently suggested to the President of the ICE that we make a film about the construction of the Thames Barrier. My father Roy John Hobson of Deptford was the piling foreman for Murphys who were the on-site foundation engineers and contractors for the barrier.

I have also alerted the London Irish community to the plight of the Harp of Erin, and I have suggested that after the recent Presidential visit by Michael D Higgins, that an Irish contractor orientated regeneration of the Harp would dovetail nicely with the regeneration of Convoys Wharf.

Another betting shop?... Our Lady of the Assumption pray for us!

In XtO "Vesper" aka ROY HOBSON CInstCES 1990, RICS 1984 (resigned 1989), Grad Dipl QS 1981

Deptford Dame said...

Thanks for the clarification Bill, I've amended the entry. I confess I was too lazy to look it up properly when I wrote the post...

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Dame was too lazy to even acknowledge the origins of "our campaign" which resided not with her, but with Crosswhatfields and the fight against Betfred.

No matter, we appreciated the cache of her inflated following.

It was in fact reports written by Sue Lawes, one of our blog authors, that were used by Dame Joan Ruddock in her own fight in parliament. That full-on unpublished report about the betting industry was referred to in Hansard.

All the way through, the Dame advised we stick to Planning rules.

Some of us gave up a large amount of our time and went a bit further to make a difference.

Allen said...

What is scary is that the pub has been sold... God knows who too.

frenchie said...

its now a estate agents
more boring than a betting shop tbh