Thursday, February 18, 2016

News: Paddy Power set to take empty Rotherham unit

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International multichannel betting and gaming group, Paddy Power is planning to move into a prominent unit in Rotherham town centre that has been empty for over a year.

Founded in Ireland in 1988, the popular brand opened its first UK betting shop in 2002 and now has more than 325 in the UK, with plans to open more every year. It estimates that it has spent £80m on the UK High Street, employing 1,700 people and plans to create a further 1,500 jobs over the next four years.

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Now plans have been submitted that would enable Paddy Power to open its first Rotherham unit and take space at 31 Effingham Street on the corner of the Old Town Hall. The plans, put together by consultants at Planning Potential, involve the subdivision of the 1,450 sq ft ground floor unit into two separate units - the bookmaker taking the prominent corner unit and the second to be brought back on the market to let.

The unit was last used by Greggs but has been empty since November 2014. The Old Town Hall is a listed building and Paddy Power is proposing not to use its standard illuminated signage but instead use a heritage style approach to fit in with the surrounding conservation area.

Paddy Power invests over £250,000 in every new shop and the bookmakers make the case that its betting shops operate in the same way as A1 retail shops, often attracting more footfall, and add that visitors to their shops will use other shops and facilities in town.

The plans conclude: "The proposals will bring back into use a long standing vacant unit which in its current form detracts from the wider street scene and aesthetic quality of the Grade II listed building.

"Supporting evidence suggests that the introduction of a Paddy Power at this location would generate high levels of footfall, linked trips to existing businesses that make up the local shopping frontage."

Recruitment for the new Rotherham shop is already underway.

Rotherham Council's draft planning policy seeks to ensure that concentrations of A1 units are not diluted below 65% in primary shopping frontages such as Effingham Street.

Betting and payday loan shops were moved into the "sui generis" category of use classes, meaning that a planning application is necessary before a building can be converted into those uses.

Rotherham already has eight bookmakers in the town centre. Lobby group, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling has raised concerns over the proliferation of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). Its research showed that users in the Rotherham constituency lost an estimated £2.6m over 2014.

Paddy Power achieved record turnover of €7 billion and operating profit of €164m in 2014. In 2016, it merged with Betfair to form a partnership that will create one of the world's largest public online betting and gaming companies by revenue.

Paddy Power website

Images: LSH

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