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.