Homeview hearing tomorrow

Tomorrow night, Lewisham Councillors will meet to decide the fate of the former Homeview Video shop, which is currently targeted by Portland Bookmakers, who want to convert it in to yet another Brockley betting shop. The background to the application can be found here.

Unsurprisingly (given that the Magistrate for the first hearing received an "unprecedented" number of complaints), the letters of objection from local people were sufficient to trigger a licensing committee hearing where Councillors, rather than officers, will have the final say.

As we've said before, Brockley is beginning to prove that it has a future as a commercial centre beyond car dealerships, fried chicken and bookies. If an application on such a prime site is successful, it could be a major set back for Brockley Road's revitalisation. Sadly, the planning system seems to make little allowance for that kind of issue, although we hope that it matters to our elected representatives.

Fortunately, there is also a perfectly good and legitimate reason to reject the application too. Namely, its near-neighbour, which happens to be a rehabilitation centre for people suffering from addictions. Portland's stated unique selling point is that they aim to create a 'luxurious' ambiance that caters for a different breed of punter, which they claim is not well served by the current range of local bookies. In other words, Portland would represent a new form of temptation for people struggling with gambling addictions. The guidelines say that if a new bookmaker would put vulnerable people at increased risk then that constitutes the basis to reject a license application.

So, given there are both valid technical grounds to reject it and that to do so would be widely welcomed by the community, we hope that the Council rejects the application tomorrow night. We will, of course, report the result.


Bea said...

Further grounds for the rejection are the large number of schools very close by and the fact that 3 buss stops are just outside the shop all frequented by school children.

On Tuesday night I waded my way through all the letters sent before the deadline (anyone who has sent a letter gets a copy of all the paperwork - incl. all the objection letters).

A large number of points included in people's letters were crossed out as invalid including:

- the proximity of other betting shops

- the fact that many people didn't welcome further gambling in Brockley

- the fact that the first application for conversion of use was being investigated by the Ombudsmen.

However, some of the letters were worded in such a manner that sometimes points were crossed out and sometimes not.

If the author wrote, “I have seen violence outside other betting shops in Brockley and in my opinion a further betting shop on the high street will attract more violence” then is was included but for some reason if they wrote “statistically banks, building societies, post offices and betting shops attract higher levels of crime” then it wasn’t included.

Guess that’s why people employ lawyers!

Interestingly Coral’s lawyers’ objection was that the planning application form (the most recent one) had not been completed correctly. I wonder if it will get rejected on a technicality, Portland re-apply for a third time and the letter writing process starts again!?

Anonymous said...

I am genuinely intrigued to know how another betting shop can be sustained as a business without impacting on the others. How many do we have now?? Their must come a tipping point. I don't believe that another shop simply means that we're all going to become gamblers so where are these people going to come from? How will they all survive? Perhaps if it opens one of the others will close down further down the road.

(which can then reopen as an mot centre)

Brockley Jon said...

I got that pack of objection letters too - how much money and paper do you think Lewisham Council wasted on sending those things out?

Licensing, if you're reading, get a scanning photocopier with document feed. 200 letters in one end, press go, and a nice PDF arrives in your inbox for you to forward on, saving time and the environment.

It's pretty amazing in terms of privacy as well, as I now have the name, address and phone numbers of about 200 people who live in Brockley...

- perhaps I will bombard you all with even more rancid fried chicken flyers!! *evil laugh*

Dean Walton said...

At my last planning meeting I successfully introduced a condition on a planning application that roughly said 'A2 use ok but not a betting shop'. (Full details on my blog http://deanwalton.blogspot.com/2007/10/planning-history-in-hither-green.html - a cheap plug but I need the hits!)

It would be misleading if I said this is the answer - any developer could appeal against such a condition - and there is always the chance they could win.

I know that some people think that betting shops etc should be left to get on to compete amongst themselves for punters who should benefit from having a wider range of places to bet. However, the argument of the Brockley & Ladywell Councillors in our response to the Local Development Framework is the concern that the vitatlity of our parades of shops are threatened by a prevalence of betting shops and takeaway food shops, whatever one's moral or ethical stance is on gambling.

Certainly Cllr Ute Michel will be at tonight's meeting speaking under standing orders to add to local residents' voices that this particular betting is not particularly welcome.

It is interesting to note that similar campaigns have cropped up elsewhere (I was reading about a campaign in Hackney on someone's blog yesterday) and it shows residents in Brockley are part of a wider group of people concerned about the impacts of this so-called liberalising appoach to gambling.

Dean Walton said...

Good news - the committee rejected the application. Full story on my blog (yes...yet another plug!)


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