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.”


Anonymous said...

This really is brilliant news. It is a credit to us that we have stood up to Portland who im sure are licking their wounds right now. Hopefully they dont leave it empty to spite us!

Pete said...

It would be a bit short sighted to leave it empty. They could either sell the shop, or rent it out.

What would people like to see opent there?

Luke said...

A DVD shop

Pete said...

You won't get one of those I don't think. They're a dying breed unfortunately as people join things like lovefilm or download stuff off the internet.

Anonymous said...

Ann Summers...

Monkeyboy said...

Butchers or fishmongers. No idea if there is enough demand though?

Put me down for a dozen sausagers and a hallibut.

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC! As a resident of Adelaide Avenue I can almost see the shop if I lean far enough out my window, so i am delighted not to have our high street blighted with yet another boring bookies. Now whos going to open us a nice pub? Or does anyone have M&S's number??

Marisa said...

This is such fantastic news. I'm still pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming it. This is a second victory for Brockley. It looks very likely Portland Bookmakers will appeal this decision. They already have appealled the first decision made under old legislation about demand which will be heard at Blackfriars Crown Court, The Borough, 1-15 Pocock St, SE1 OBJ on 21 January 08.

How about a Mini Waitrose or Fresh & Wild or Carluccios?

Headhunter said...

Hopefully we'll get SOMETHING there... It would make a great target for vandals if left empty. There's already an empty shop space across the road, hopefully this won't add to that

Rich said...

A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, a tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Fresh & Wild, Carluccios, S&M.

ALL GREAT IDEAS but how do you get Portland to sell?

Q. If they keep appealing, is it not the case that the planning permission will eventually go through?

Monkeyboy said...

You have to have grounds for an appeal, just because you got rejected does not count? Anyone know a friendly lawyer who can offer a free (!!) opinion while quaffing champange and eating a roast swan?

Hugh said...

Isn't there a nagging worry that no one else seemed to want the site? If M&S were hot to trot, surely we would have heard about it.

It's Peruvian Barn Owl pate, Monkeyboy, old man.

Brockley Nick said...

If Portland can't turn it in to a bookie then they have three choices.

1. Keep it empty - this is an expensive way for them to spite the community that spurned them.

2. Sell it on.

3. Go to appeal - they can't just appeal ad nauseum until they get their way. If they mount an appeal and lose, that's it. This could be expensive and time consuming and all lead to nothing. In the mean time they are sitting on an asset that they could turn in to cash by selling on.

Brockley Nick said...

Hugh, it's not big enough for an M&S, but I understand that rumours the rumours that they had been interested in Brockley are accurate.

The site was bought months ago. In the days before the Broca and Degustation, before the Lock Tavern bought the Amersham Arms, before work began on the Tea Factory, etc.

I think the commercial market in Brockley will have improved considerably since they originally bought it.

Anonymous said...

Great news. Now please please please can we have a Butcher, Baker, Grocer or Deli? Basically, anything apart from another Bookie, Newsagent or Kebab shop!

Ed said...

Designer/second-hand furniture shop like 'id' in Honor Oak or 'places and spaces' in Clapham old town please; or a florist...

Marisa said...

The grounds on which Portland Bookmakers have rejected the first application under the old legislation is:
1) No weight was given on the different service they will provide.
2) No weight was given on the monopoly of one bookmakers in the area.
3) No weight was given on the number of customers in surrounding betting shops.
4) No weight was given on disabled access.

From a resident who attended all three days hearing I can categorically say that all the issues above were raised and successfully challenged by the Corals Team.

With yesturday's verdict it does remain possible that Portland will object but would rather not mention what grounds incase they read this site!

Anonymous said...

We've already got a florist tucked under the railway bridge opposite Duke's. A larger version of Magi would be ace - we could all do our Christmas shopping locally then...

Hugh said...

How about a bespoke tailor?

I've searched high and low for someone in London who'll make me a suit for less than a grand.

I mean one that fits, before you ask.

luke said...

Hugh. Check Gresham Blake, just opened in London. I got my bespoke whistle for under that. Nicely fitting too...

Richard Elliot said...

I've seen all the posts asking for a Waitrose on M&S on the Homeview or Sorting Office sites and thought they were a bit OTT. I'll eat my words if M&S have been seriously interested in the area!

Hugh - I got a suit from Raja Fashions (the guy you see in the Economist) and am very pleased with it. If you wanted to support the local economy there is a place on Loampit Hill near the Tesco Garage, but it doesn't look like Saville Row......

Hugh said...

Luke/Richard, thanks for your recommendations.

Gresham Blake I'm aware of but Bond Street is just the sort of address I want to avoid!

I also have a Raja Fashions suit. I've just spent £80 getting the trousers altered and they won't ever be right. The jacket is OK but for £500 (twice the advertised price) I expected better. I've learned that a single fitting equals disappointment.

There's a tailor on Gray's Inn Road just down from the ITN building. He's been there donkey's years and quoted me £750, with £150 extra for spare trousers.

For that I get proper, old-fashioned tailoring with fittings that deserve the name. Or so I hope - I'm in for three suits.

Brockley Nick said...

Richard, the thing is that M&S Simply Food is a different model to their traditional shops and they have been expanding those aggressively. Brockley would never sustain a full store, but it has plenty of the right sort of customers for upmarket convenience food.

On a related note, it has been heartening that every time I've been in to Degustation or walked past it, there have been customers inside.

Howard James Hardiman said...

Personally, I'd prefer to encourage local business over chains, but I guess I'm a bit of a hippy that way. An M&S Food shop or whatever would make Brockley Any Old High Street, rather than somewhere distinctive.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

I agree, i did not choose to live in a london 'clone zone' if i did i wouldn't be living here. one or two chain stores only, and only if they are small.

Brockley Nick said...

You can both relax and enjoy the distinctive charm of brockley road's current offerings (a unique blend of newsagents, costcutters and estate agents) for some time to come since they couldn't find the right site. But I hink you're missing the point - the fact that they were interested suggests that the did their homework and brockley does have the population to support delis, etc.

Howard James Hardiman said...

Oh, that wasn't a gripe - I mean Shepherd's Bush has the most diverse high street in London and it's all pound shops, so indie retailers doesn't necessarily mean it's all going to be the way Upper Street was before it got drunk.

On a slightly different note, wouldn't it be nice if there were a local meeting place that wasn't connected to a church?

Monkeyboy said...

one of those decent 'pubs' would be good....but I won't start all that again.

Anyone tried The Amersham Arms yet?? may be a bit young for an old git like me but looks promising

Darren said...

Indeed a great result.

However, lets not lose sight of the bigger issue here. If the Lewisham planning committee had not made the decison to allow the change of use application then none of this mess would have happened.

It is also worth mentioning that Green Councillor Mike Keogh sat on the planning committee on the night in question. I therefore take any statement about the councillors fully supporting the community with a pinch of salt.

If the planning committee cannot resist a planning application for the loss of an A1 shop unit in a parade where less than half the units are shops, then when can they say no?

I beleive that the councillors should take from this the need for a more strategic approach towards the shops in Brockley, both in terms of their use and appearance. This needs to start with appreciating that A1 retail shops are the life blood of any centre and should be protected.

Cllr Dean Walton said...

In response to brockley darren.

In December 2006 when the planning application (see it on Lewisham's planning database ref DC/06/62680/FT) the report to committee stated at para 3.1 "It is understood that the premises would operate as an estate agent." and on that understanding the whole committee followed the officers' advice and voted to grant permission for a change of use. It became apparent within a few days that Lewisham's planners and councillors had been conned.

In the immediate aftermath Lewisham's officers denied that anything could be done anyway even if it had been known it was intended to be a betting shop. However I have challenged that view at a recent planning meeting (cheap plug for my blog...).

With regards to the need to take a strategic view of the issues - I couldn't agree more, which is why our response to the Local Development Framework had this to say about local shops:
The Council will encourage the retention of existing, and entry of new, small shops. Specifically the Council will seek to support and enhance the amenity, diversity and character of the five Neighbourhood and Local Centres and resist the loss of local amenity and A1 use in the 80 or so local parades.

“Priority for support in improving the attractiveness, accessibility and environment of the borough’s retail centres will be given to the approximately 80 local parades, then to the 5 neighbourhood or local centres, followed by the 7 District Town Centres.

“The Council will also review and if necessary produce supplementary planning guidance on the number of particular uses permitted within the retail centres including betting shops, estate agents and takeaway food outlets, but not restricted to just these uses.

“The Council will negotiate Section 106 agreements whereby the presence of a major store or stores is offset by a levy to support independent retailers located nearby.”

“The Council will identify and promote sites for use as new and additional farmers’ markets.”

And here's the more specific details from the Development Policies (which essentially replace the old Unitary Development Plan - UDP):

Add a provision to the section on retail uses so: “that Class A2 uses do not cumulate to a level which would harm the viability and vitality of the Local Shopping Centre or Parade.”

Sue Luxton said...

In response to Darren's point about the original planning permission for change of use, it is worth pointing out:

1)The planning committee were misled somewhat in that the committee papers said it was going to be an estate agent, not a betting shop.
2) Officer recommendation to councillors was that they should approve and that refusal would be difficult to uphold on appeal. From the top of my head I think the figures were smthg like 8 A1 shops and 7 others in that row at the time, and if it had been slightly more tipped in the other way it would have been easier to defend.
3) Cllrs on planning committees have to work within the existing planning guidelines, rather than on what we think they should be, or risk exposing the Council to considerable legal costs in lost appeals etc. Speaking as another Green cllr on a planning committee this can often be exceedingly frustrating - you have little choice but to pass applications with precious little in the way of green/sustainable measures because the current planning framework doesn't require them. So equally while a cllr might be all for supporting local shops and their party is outspoken on protecting local shops and highly critical of the monopolies a few big supermarkets have (the Green Party, for example!), sometimes the planning guidelines make it difficult to do that as you might like.
4) That said, the Green Group made the most of the recent consultation on the Local Development Framework to submit a wide-range of proposals to address some of the limitations of the existing planning guidelines, including a number of proposals to protect and encourage small local shops and we will be pushing for as many as them as possible to be incorporated into the new planning framework when it comes before Full Council. As far as I am aware we were the only opposition party to submit detailed proposals on this.

So yes, with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better for the local community if the original planning application had been refused, but councillors made the decision based on the information and legal advice they had at the time.

Happy to clarify this further if anyone would like to e-mail me directly.

Sue Luxton said...

oops, apologies for Green cllr overdose there, Dean's post wasn't there when I started typing!

leenewham said...

Hugh, I too have ventured from my trusted taylor in Saville row and I can recommend 'www.asuitthatfits.com' where I was fitted for a rather natty little number for my rapidly approaching wedding (one reason I haven't posted that much in here recently...plus the fact that some (insert profanity here) in Sydenham gazumped me after I had gone to the trouble of having a full survey). You can see the styles online, then you go infor a fitting/consultation and it's at least half the price of saville row. Nice guys too. Toodle pip old boy.

Marisa said...

In response to Darren.

I understand your frustration with the change of use. I'm a Brockley resident who has opposed this betting shop and change of use but I have to say that cllr Ute Michelle has supported us throughout. She attended the Magistrates hearing to speek up for us and also attended the hearing last week to speek up for us. There is a lot of work that is done behind the scenes.

I use to live in Finchley where my local MP was Mrs Thatcher and this was even before she met Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to discuss world domination. I can't imagine her supporting anything like this in the community other than her stockings.

Anonymous said...

Let's keep up the pressure on Portland. Good work to all involved. Barry LS

Darren said...

Marisa, you misunderstand me. I was not questioning the Cllrs commitment to this cause. It is no doubt that their input has helped sway this decision in the favour of the local community.

As a planning officer for a west London authority I am more than familiar with applications involving the loss of A1 shops. What I would say for future reference is that, if officers feel that a refusal is not justified then the impact of occupiers using the property in an unacceptable way can be reduced by:

1. Use of time limited permissions to allow the impact to be assessed with the use in situ.
2. Restricting the A2 use to only the activity specified (i.e. An estate agents in this case) and to no others,
3. Use of personal permissions, so that future occupiers cannot use the property in a way that is different to the activity that has been granted planning permission.

Each of these tools are widely used in most central London authorities and are also available to Lewisham. However, none were used in this case.

The proposal would have resulted in less than half the units in the parade being in non shop use. This is good grounds for a refusal as central government guidance re local shopping centres suggests that a figure closer to 75% retail in a parade is desirable.

I am simply saying that lessons need to be learnt.

Marisa said...

Darren, your points are really interesting.
I contacted Lewisham Council and consequently the ombudsman about the change of use on this shop. Their replies were that there were absolutely no reason to refuse this. Since then I found out that they could have put a condition like "No Betting Shops". After all if it was going to be an Estate Agent as it was claimed then by placing an exclusion such as "no betting shop" wouldn't have mattered surely?
Also did we really need another Estate Agent?

glenda said...

Was anyone at the meeting on 1 November where the licence for former Homeview to be betting shop was rejected? I saw a guy at the front who seemed to be riding his horse everytime the spokesperson for the applicant was talking! Don't s'pose anyone else present at said meeting saw that?

Darren said...


They could not be specific enough to say no betting shops. However, they could say that permission is granted only for an estate agency and for no other activity within class A2.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see the live programme on gangs on channel 5 last night? It featured the Brockley Boys gang - really scary stuff.

I had never realised that there is all this gang activity in the area and it really needs to be covered on this site i think, Nick do you think this would be possible? A lot of residents would have seen it and like me are scared.

For me it puts all this talk about M&S and Waitrose into perspective as there is an undercurrent to Brockley that is going to put people off

BA B-rockers - Drake Road

Pete said...

I'm pretty sure that Islington has an M&S and it was in the top 10 worst places to live in Britain. I wouldn't get too worried.

Almost every area in London has gangs now and provided you aren't a member of one of them they will almost certainly never trouble you.

Monkeyboy said...

It's an old debate. It's not crime but the perception of crime thats the issue. Anyone read Samul Peyps? He was moaning about crime in the 17th Century, was much safer when he was young apparently.

He also moaned about the lack of decent plasterers in London, somethings don't change.

Sarah said...

And channel 5 documentaries do tend towards sensationalism...Even super-bourgeois Clapham has a gang problem - it's a London-wide problem.

Brockley Nick said...

How do you know I am not deep cover right now?

In all seriousness, I write about what I see, what people tell me about and what I think I can usefully contribute to local discussion. I don't know anything about the gang, nobody's told me anything about it and I'm not sure xwhat I could say about it. We do cover crime issues, such as the problem on upper brockley road, but please feel free to send me any stories you think are important to cover

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

I personally think its got safer around the station since i've moved here a yr and a hlaf ago

anonymous for a very good reason said...

This isn't really the place for this discussion, but I can't resist - I caught it just by chance but their twisted logic was quite remarkable.

Most of the documentary centred around the "mean streets" of Lewisham. In an interview, gang member points to Canary Wharf in background "That's where we wanna be". Methinks, well, why don't you get on the DLR then? After all, you do get a free travel pass.

Seriously, it's a sad reflection on today's materialism that he thinks the answer to his problems is to work in the City, when in fact as we know many City workers are quite prepared to throw themselves out of a window to end it all.

"The only job we can get is a decorator or somin'", to which Macyntyre retorts "Some of my best mates are decorators, what's wrong with that?". Apparently, "It's about pride" - seems robbing and murder is a better career path than an apprenticeship as a decorator.

What's the way out of this mess, funded by a support group - of course, make a music video! Oh yeah, there's lots of jobs in media! Production companies are crying out for more runners to work 12 hour days and get paid... nuffin! And that lot all have media degrees. Oh, seems no-one told him about that.

Sorry, rant over, let's talk about the Talbot instead, that's much more exciting...

Anonymous said...

I think its hilarious (not to mention a bit hypocritical) that everyone seems to be keen on an M&S opening at the Homeview site. Whilst I wasn't that keen on another bookies, at least Portland was a small localish business. Large chains like M&S will do very little to support our local community.

Anonymous said...

I think a Starbucks coffee bar would be best in Homeview. All the coffee bars in Brockley are rubbish independent ones.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a shame that the bookies got turned down. I like a bet and the other bookies in Brockley are either chains or dirty. A good quality Independent bookmaker with Turf TV and maybe a decent cup of coffee would have certainly enhanced our community.

Pete said...

Good bit of quality trolling there. Good work.

Bea said...

Pete - you're so right! It's pathetic really as it's so obvious and they chose to remain Anon.

Anonymous said...

This is good news - vulnerable people have been protected. It is really unfair to expose people on low /no incomes to the constant tempation betting provides.

I gather from reading these comments that there was some to-ing and fro-ing council wise on the decision.

If this is all true, I really take my hat off to them. It seems that they were misled, so they passed the original proposal and then had to change their minds.

Well done to them for putting the welfare of the community first - you don't see that enough in politicians!

Pete said...

With regards to the vulnerable people who suffer from addictions:

Surely opening a bar or an offlicense should be refused on the same grounds?

Anonymous said...

It is true that the application for a late licence a Moonbow Jakes (just two doors down) never received the same level of concern about harming vulnerable people or resulting in people hanging around and urinating in the street behind.

There is an unsavoury air of middle class hypocrisy here that leaves me feeling rather cold.

corrie said...

i'm not sure about middle-class hypocrisy -- I might call it 'middle-class liberal guilt' -- but maybe that's just splitting hairs. All the tut-tutting about "gang warfare" in Brockley --is it really such a shock -- did you think ALL brockly-ites post regularly on Brockley Central?? We are a thin slice of our community, here -- those who are employed to spend all day in front of a computer, yet don't work so hard as to preclude a bit of a browse and a gossip on this site (of which i am a huge fan - and I don't even feel guilty about it). Have you never noticed the state of the council housing, and how much of it we have in Brockley? Ever walk past Albertines around 10pm? Open your eyes people.. I'm not a native-born english person and the class divide in this culture remains astounding to me, even after ten years here....The point about the enthusiasm for gentrified drinking venues (see discussion of Talbot & Wickham Arms, too) vs hatred/fear of the bookies is really well-observed.

Bea said...


“Have you never noticed the state of the council housing, and how much of it we have in Brockley?”

Yes – as does all of London I might add – even the posh areas such as Chelsea! And, in fact, the council housing opposite where I live is very well maintained.

“Ever walk past Albertines around 10pm?”

No – usually in bed as I have to work early the next day (and it’s not in my patch) but I do walk past the Brockley Barge every evening. But what’s you point?

“I'm not a native-born English person and the class divide in this culture remains astounding to me, even after ten years here....”

Well maybe that’s because in other countries the poor are pushed into ghettos and not in the face of “nice middle class people”. It is therefore assumed there are no working class poor???!!! “Everyone is equal and class distinction doesn’t exist” which frankly is a load of tosh. In particular places like Berlin and Paris come to mind here.

One of the great attractions of Brockley is that it has such a diverse and mixed community including (but not limited to) artists, City / Docklands workers / teachers / musicians / electricians / plumbers / shop keepers and, yes, even people who work in bookies.

Yes, I hold “middle class” values that are on the liberal side but feel no guilt for this!

Bea said...

Only one of the grounds for a rejection on this latest application was “harming vulnerable people” but I think the vast majority of objectors true feeling was that there are enough bookies in the area and another one really isn’t needed. The community is amply provided for. They don’t want another – and in this case large - venue on the high street likely to attract drug dealing and violent behaviour – as sometimes happens outside such shops.

That said, if “harming vulnerable people” is what needs to be used to get the application denied then that is what objectors will do whether they truly believe it or not (since, as you say, there are plenty of drinking establishments and other places to gamble – and would one more make such a difference to gamblers getting over their addiction? In my opinion, probably not). This may be hypocritical but in this instance many people must have felt that the end justified the means.

And I didn’t see any letters written in favour of another betting shop!

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

I think theres also a general point to make as to what type of community do we want brockley to become?

There must be some truth to the statement that values/.
lifestyles/profile of the better off tends to be more desirable ot most than those who are hard done by and live hand to mouth. Otherwise, why would anyone wish to better themselves by getting an education or doing hard work for promotions etc...?

Surely, even the poorer elements of society must recognise this, and by default the benefits of 'not having another bookie' in Brockley.

I dont think theres a class issue here, and lightsider Hugh would happily invite darksiders to his house for a glass of champy, wouldn't you Hugh? :oP

Headhunter said...

Going back to Monkeyboy's question as to whether anyone has been to the Amersham Arms, I've been twice and although it feels quite young and a bit studenty, it's got a good atmosphere. I'll definitely be heading back! Nothing like a spot of live music!

Hugh said...

Do the Brockley Boys open their membership to all local residents? I haven't been in a gang since I was about 10 and rather miss it.

Brockley Nick said...

Hugh, it's not that simple. Like any gang, they have an initiation test.

If you can't tell a Romanée Conti from a Petrus, you've no chance.

Hugh said...

do wot

barryls said...

What a shame.

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