Friday, March 31, 2017

News: Paddy Power's planning appeal pays off

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Attempts by Rotherham Council to curb the number of bookmakers in the town centre have fallen flat at the final hurdle after a planning inspector overturned a decision by planners to refuse plans by Paddy Power to take on an empty unit.

Rothbiz reported last year that Paddy Power was planning to take the former Greggs unit in The Old Town Hall - empty now for over 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 Irish group, which merged with Betfair in 2016, subsequently appealed the decision and both sides put forward their cases to the Government's Planning Inspectorate earlier this year.

The judgement has now been published, showing that the planning inspector has sided with the bookmaker, and the appeal is allowed, granting planning permission for the new Rotherham operation.

The plans, put together by consultants at Planning Potential, involve the subdivision of the 1,450 sq ft ground floor Effingham Street unit into two separate units - the bookmaker taking the prominent corner unit and the second brought back on the market.

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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 bookmakers, which would employ six people in Rotherham at the site which is also a Grade II listed building, pointed 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.

Consultants for Paddy Power also added 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.

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The Council's arguments focused on the appropriateness of betting shops on Primary Shopping Streets, its desire to create a family-friendly town centre, the marketing of the empty unit, the potential impact of another betting shop on footfall, and the clustering of betting shops in the town centre.

Prime shopping streets in Rotherham town centre currently feature five bookmakers, the wider town centre has a further three betting shops, two gambling establishments and a bingo hall.

The authority concluded that "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."

However, the case officer at the Planning Inspectorate disagreed. Helen Cassini said: "From my site visit I observed that both the Primary Shopping Street and Town Centre have a relatively wide range of uses including banking, charity shops, and hair and beauty units.

"It is important to note that the clustering of any retail, business or service use may limit the retail appeal and affect the vitality and viability of shopping areas in which such clusters are found. However, as a result of the diversity of uses within the Town Centre, even when walking on Frederick Street [where three betting shops are located], I did not experience a sense of over dominance or clustering effect of betting shops.

"I do not consider that an additional betting shop within the Primary Shopping Street would result in a significant alteration to the existing balance, or result in a clustering effect that would be significantly detrimental to the retail attraction of the immediate area or wider Town Centre."

Paddy Power website

Images: LSH


1 comments:

Bob Langley March 31, 2017 at 11:23 AM  

What a stupid decision. Betting shops should be out of the way. Gambling is a scourge of society and the cause of so much family grief. It will attract youngsters and all those others who cannot afford to lose. AS for spending increase in town. This may be on fags but nothing else.

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