Thursday, January 5, 2017

News: Paddy Power appeal against planning refusal

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International multichannel betting and gaming group, Paddy Power has lodged an appeal after Rotherham Council refused plans for a new betting shop in the town centre.

Rothbiz reported last year that the Irish group, which merged with Betfair in 2016, was planning to take the former Greggs unit in The Old Town Hall - empty now for two years - but the local authority refused permission for the operation, stating that another betting shop would harm the character and function of the town centre.

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.

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.

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.

The application made the case that Paddy Power 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 concluded: "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."

However, the Council refused the application without it going to the planning board using delegated powers.

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The Council's decision states: "There are ten betting shops and three other gambling establishments in the town centre, among them, six betting shops and one gambling establishment are on the prime shopping streets. Although they only occupy approximately 5% of the units on prime shopping streets, they are within 100m radius of the application site with a bingo hall at Corporation Street being the furthest away which is within 200m radius of the application site.

"With this in mind, it is considered a further betting shop provision within Rotherham town centre, particularly in this prominent location on prime shopping streets, will contribute towards a clustering effect which will adversely affect the viability and vitality of the town centre."

With a premises licence for the proposed betting shop already granted, an appeal was lodged against the refusal. An independent planning inspector is set to hear both sides later this month.

Planning policy officers at Rotherham Council have also raised issues on the perceived negative impact of betting shops. The decision adds: "While it is recognised that betting shops are engaged in legitimate activities, it is considered that the nature of the proposed use has a specific target customer group in terms of age and interest, as which it would not enhance the town centre appeal as a family friendly destination or broaden the appeal of the town centre offer.

"It is considered that the increasing availability to access gambling venues would encourage gambling behaviours and in turn, associate with risk to health inequalities."

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The bookmakers, which would employ six people in Rotherham, point to recent successful appeals in Basingstoke and Leytonstone where the inspector concluded that betting shops in those cases would not affect the viability and vitality of the relevant town centres.

In correspondence with the Council, consultants for Paddy Power also add that bringing an long-vacant unit back into use should outweigh the loss of a retail unit and that the current number of betting shops in the town centre has not reached over supply or saturation.

The hearing statement for Paddy Power states that the proposal would take up the percentage of units in prime shopping streets in Rotherham from 3.7% to 4.5% which they consider to be "a very small proportion of the prime shopping streets offer, as such, based on this alone, it cannot be said that there is currently a concentration or cluster of betting shops or that there would be as a result of the proposal."

Paddy Power website

Images: LSH


1 comments:

Anonymous,  January 5, 2017 at 2:10 PM  

RMBC are adhering to the conclusion that many other councils are having regarding the town centre proliferation of betting shops. It may be an answer but the same rules must also apply to other localities in the villages such as Maltby which are becoming swamped as well. Many other councils also limit pay day lending companies having offices in towns.

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