Portland's plans for Homeview refused [updated]

Last night, as reported by an excited Cllr Dean Walton on the BC message boards, Lewisham's Licensing Committee rejected the application by Portland Bookmakers for a betting shop licence at the 'Homeview' video shop on the corner of Brockley Road & Adelaide Avenue.

There is little doubt that without the vociferous campaign by local people against the proposals, Brockley would by now have its umpteenth bookmaker, occupying one of the most important spots on the high street.

Portland's parent company still own the site and, as Dean suggests in his blog, there will almost certainly be an appeal, but who knows, maybe Portland will decide that they made a misjudgement and look elsewhere to expand. A good gambler knows when to cut their losses.

We dislike the use of the term "common sense" in political debate, because one person's version of common sense is often an other's blinkered belligerence, but Sue Luxton describes the result on her blog as a 'victory for common sense' and in this case, we can't think of a better way of putting it.

Update: We just received the following press release from Ute Michel, on behalf of Brockley's Green councillors.

A controversial plan to turn a former much-loved video shop into a bookmakers was thrown out by councillors on Lewisham’s licensing committee last night because it risked harming vulnerable residents.

The ruling – made after four hours of debate – sets a national precedent because it was the first to be judged under new rules brought in by the recent Gambling Act.

The applicants are thought likely to appeal the decision, but if magistrates uphold the decision of councillors it could mean communities throughout the country have a powerful voice over the siting of bookies’ offices in their neighbourhoods.

Birmingham City Council, among other major authorities, was known to be watching Lewisham as the first test case of the new law.

A near-identical decision was taken by councillors in Haringey, north London, last night, over a separate application there.

Lewisham’s licensing committee was concerned that the location of the premises meant people suffering from addictions could not be sufficiently protected from harm.

There are 210 residential units (places, not residences) for people with addictions within a mile of the premises at 329-331 Brockley Road. Objectors were also concerned about the effect on local children as there are a secondary school and several primary schools nearby.

Green Party councillor Ute Michel spoke against the application at last night’s public meeting, where she was quizzed by committee members.

She said afterwards:

“I am thrilled with this decision. There were huge concerns about a new betting shop, and I fully supported the local community in opposing the application. As this was the first application decided under the new legislation, Lewisham’s decision is not only good news for Brockley and Ladywell, it also sends a strong message to other local authorities across the country who are all faced with similar issues.

“The local community rose to the challenge and several residents also argued the case very forcefully and professionally at a well-attended meeting last night.”