Bookies cannot change historic pub front

The pub is set for closure. Photo: Rhiannon Bury

A bookmakers due to take over a Deptford pub has hit opposition after being told that their signage cannot be displayed on the outside of the building.

The Deptford Arms, on Deptford High Street, was approved for a change of use by the council last month, despite there already being six bookmakers on the same road.

Betting company Paddy Power is looking to take over the pub and have made a licensing bid to Lewisham Council. Having accepted the usage change, planners rejected the application to hang illuminated green signs on the building.

The decision report said: “The proposed signage, by reason of its design, materials and means of illumination, would be insensitive to this prominent building and would be harmful to the character and appearance of the Deptford High Street conservation area.”

The Deptford Arms has been known as a popular music venue in the high street, and in the 1970s pop band Squeeze were regular performers.

Deptford local Francis Baker said: “It’s a real shame to see the pub go, it’s at the centre of the high street and will be missed by people who just pop in for a pint.

“There’s lots of history here too and the high street needs a pub like this. It was doing well with putting events on so I don’t know why it’s closing.

“A pub might have attracted people to the area, but I don’t think a bookies will have the same effect.”

The council are not permitted to turn down a license application simply because there are already several similar businesses nearby. The Gambling Act 2005, which moved the responsibility for licensing from the courts to the local councils, also restricts the grounds on which applications could be rejected.

A spokesperson from Paddy Power said: “We are currently in amicable dialogue with the conservation officer to come to the best solution.

“The latest decision will slow the process down slightly but we hope to begin the conversion work in around a month’s time.”

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