Lewisham has refused Betfred's Planning Application!
We called the Planning Officer today to find out when the Planning Committee hearing might take place and were told that only just yesterday the Chief Planning Officer, as the delegated authority, had turned them down, based on Lewisham's Planning Policy. Such a decision negates the need to go to committee.
The reasons are posted on the website page detailing the Planning Application and are:
1) The proposed variation of Condition (2) to allow use of the premises for unrestricted A2: Financial and Professional Services, for use as a betting shop would continue the proliferation of an over concentration of betting office uses in the vicinity within a designated core shopping frontage, beyond an acceptable level, detracting from the range of retail services available within the defined District Town Centre, adversely affecting the diversity of uses and the vitality and viability of the area, contrary to Policy STC 4 Major and District Centres - Core Shopping Areas of the adopted Unitary Development Plan and Policy CSP6 of the Submission Core Strategy.
2) The proposed variation of Condition (2) to allow use of the premises for unrestricted A2: Financial and Professional Services, for use as a betting shop, would have the potential to cause harm in terms of anti-social behaviour, crime and disturbance to neighbouring residents and other users of the town centre, contrary to the requirements of Policy STC 4 Major and District Centres - Core Shopping Areas in the adopted Unitary Development Plan (2004) and Policy CSP6 of the Submission Core Strategy.
Betfred will now have to appeal to the government Planning Inspectorate in Bristol.
We would like to think Lewisham's decision was reinforced by the sheer volume of objections from the community and the petitions signed, which totalled over 1100 signatures overall (320 of which went to planning - see earlier post).
Yesterday we got a call from BBC London who wanted to come down to Deptford to do a story on the high street betting shops with reference to the campaign against Betfred. A reporter had arranged to come tomorrow morning (Friday), but with the latest news, has now been pulled off the story. Perhaps we shouldn't have let him know the news, since although the battle has been won, the war goes on...
Meanwhile, Betfred's application to make modifications to the back of the building was granted, so the building work that we've witnessed over the past few weeks will probably continue.
Like Paddy Power at the Deptford Arms, who went ahead with their new shop front despite planning permission being turned down, Betfred are likely to continue refitting the ground floor premises at 93-95. Paddy Power will now be subject to planning enforcement that may involve a retrospective planning application, a long drawn out process that would hopefully result in them having to rectify what they've done and remove unapproved structures at their own cost.
A note on Betfred and Paddy Power profits...
Betfred announced sales of £3.5bn in January 2011, up 30% on last year. 'Pre-exeptional' operating profits were £12.37m. £10.2m of 'exceptional costs' relating to 'provisions against property-related loans' mean that their pre-tax profits were only £360K...Despite some closures, Befred opened 41 new shops in the 12 months to the end of March 2010, taking the total number of outlets to 832. They have since increased their portfolio to beyond 850, with the intention of expanding to 1000 over the next year. The business had continued to benefit from the operation of fixed-odds betting terminals, while a tight rein had been kept on overheads. Staff numbers had increased to 2,951. Betfred is a leading contender to buy the Tote, which was officially put up for sale by the coalition government in June 2010 and estimated to be worth up to £200m with 3,300 staff and 500 shops in the UK.
Meanwhile, Paddy Power announced in March 2011 that profits rose by 56% as it capitalised on World Cup misery. The draws against America and Algeria in the group stages of last summer's world cup were preceded by a wall of money being placed by patriotic fans on England winning. The company also benefited from its acquisition of Australian company Sportsbet. Pre-tax profits rose to £89.6m in 2010, £6.4m of which were UK operating profits. Almost two-thirds of its profits last year were generated outside the Republic of Ireland, and most of their revenue is now internet related, with many punters using smart phones to place bets. (It is expected that there will be a billion smart phones in use by 2013, as many as there are now computers).