Betfred originally applied for planning permission in March to turn a former branch of the Halifax into a betting shop. Permission was denied by Lewisham council on the grounds that this would imply a change of use.
There are already seven betting shops on the one street already and this one would have made eleven betting shops in the area
Betfred appealed but inspector David Smith made what could be considered a historic decision. He agreed on a change of use for the building but specifically ruled out using it as a bookmakers and was according to the Deptford Dame blog which has been closely following the story: ” spectacularly damning of the impact it would have on the levels of crime and anti-social behaviour on the street.”
The inspector’s report stated that: “There is a strong body of evidence from local residents and shopkeepers that the existing betting offices in the Core Area give rise to anti-social behaviour, crime and disturbance. Representations refer to feelings of being intimidated and threatened by groups of people ‘hanging around’ outside other betting offices.”
The report mentioned that the police corroborated the views of residents and the inspector went on to say: “It would be likely to give rise to anti-social behaviour and disturbance to local residents and users of the town centre. There is also a risk of an increase in crime. As a result use of the High Street would become less safe and pleasant.”
This is not only a major success for a local campaign it is also a precedent that could be used by other local groups attempting to improve their neighbourhoods.
View planning decision here.