(The vile) BETFRED
At the end of March, Lewisham Planning turned down their application to alter the then current planning class (A2 Financial) to lift the condition on it that said it was only to be used as a Building Society. Betfred then appealed to the government Planning Inspectorate.
On August 16, the government Inspector decided to lift the special conditions on the A2 Financial use – since there had not been a Building Society there for some time anyway (the Halifax had been a bank since 1997). However, he decided to allow all A2 uses but then applied a new condition to preclude its use as a betting office.
This conclusion was based on the objections provided by local people and the police and their reporting of the high level of antisocial behaviour created by already existing betting shops (see extracts from the inspector's report at the bottom of this post). Although the inspector agreed the proposed betting office would occupy an empty unit and create jobs in line with national planning policy for sustainable economic growth (PPS4), he stated "there is no indication that this is the only viable use of the premises or of the employment that would be generated. Since the main aims of PPS4 also encompass safe environments, these factors do not outweigh the harm identified."
Betfred are now whining on about how the antisocial behaviour going on at other betting shops is not a good enough reason to disallow their own presence, arguing that the imposition of the new condition by the government inspector is unreasonable.
Objections need to be put in again. If you objected last time round this new objection can be an updated version of your old objection (with the date and application number altered), or a new letter that refers to your previous objection. Address it to firstname.lastname@example.org – the planning officer in charge is Russell Penn. We have up until the beginning of December to get in objections but don't delay!
ALBEMARLE & BOND Pawnbrokers
Deptford Nightlife: the view from 37 Deptford High Street: three betting shops and another pawnbroker within spitting distance.
Three objections went into planning to oppose the pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond setting up shop at no.37 Deptford High Street (directly opposite another pawnbroker and two betting shops, and only a few doors down from two other pawnbrokers and three other betting shops). This many objections should have resulted in the application having to go before the Planning Committee, but it appears the planning department asked the applicant to withdraw part of their application, which was in essence a request for change of use but included drawings for a new shopfront. The planning team requested these to be submitted in a separate application. They were then obliged to allow the change of use from "sui generis" (no particular class) to "A1 Retail" as befits the council's own core retail strategy, and because pawnbrokers fall under the "Retail" classification.
Although the applicant may now set up shop, they may have difficulty getting permission for their modern branded shopfront. (See our previous post on Abermarle & Bond).
Extracts from the Planning Inspectorate's Appeal Decision on Betfred in August 2011:
21. Just because there may be problems in connection with other betting offices does not necessarily mean that these would be repeated in conjunction with Nos 93-95. The appellant company suggests that this could lead to a greater dispersal. However, this is a large unit and presumably it would not open unless the operator was satisfied that it would generate sufficient custom to make it profitable. If the appeal were dismissed then the current state of affairs would remain but, to my mind, an additional premises would simply add to problems and should not be supported.
22. Consequently the proposal would be likely to increase anti-social behaviour and disturbance although the implications for crime are less certain. The appellant company is critical of the Council for referring to the potential for harm to be caused in this respect rather than expressing certainty. It seems to me that it is not possible to be categorical but that the weight of well-informed evidence suggests that this outcome is likely to materialise. Put another way, it would be foolish to ignore the convincing accounts given or to assume that they would not be repeated in association with the proposed betting office.
23. As a consequence the proposal would make the High Street a less safe place for residents and other users of the town centre. In this way there would be a broad conflict with the intentions of criterion (d) of Policy STC4 of the Unitary Development Plan and also with the aims of PPS1. The same would not necessarily be true of every betting office but it is the conclusion in this case based on the evidence about existing operations in Deptford High Street.
See also Deptford Misc for more of the report, and, for a simple digest go to Deptford Dame.