1 November 2007

'No' to Brockley Road Betting Shop

Lewisham's Licensing Committee rejected the application for a betting shop licence at the 'Homeview' video shop on the corner of Brockley Road & Adelaide Avenue at its meeting this evening.

The applicants were clearly shocked by the decision as despite their thorough preparation it was clear that they had expected the new gambling laws to mean that the committee should have nodded the application through.

However, taking on board the concerns of residents in relation to vulnerable people, the committee took the surprise decision to reject the application outright with no scope for there to be any conditions attached that could overcome these concerns.

There will inevitably be an appeal - and certainly the committee will have been made aware of this. However, one of the committee members explained to me the act & guidance refers to 'vulnerable' people without providing any suitable means of identifying who these are. Clearly, as the applicants in appealing will need to address why the committee was wrong to highlight 'vulnerable' people in its decision, there may be scope for this decision to set legal precedents and much needed detail to the Gambling Act.

Of course as this issue progresses through the courts there is always the consideration that the political choices made in 'liberalising' gambling in this country could now be reviewed - in much the same way as super casino for Manchester was shelved right at the start of Gordon Brown's appointment as Prime Minister. Certainly Lewisham Councillors need to think if there is anyway in which they influence this.

Cllr Michel for Ladywell was there representing the views of the Green Party Councillors and supporting local residents all the way. Well done Ute. Well done residents.

2 comments:

Brockley Darren said...

Dean,

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.

My question is, 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...

brockley darren, you are right.

The Greens in their response to the Mayor's proposals for the Local Development Framework said just that...and whilst politically we have always made the case for small shops - the situation at Homeview whereby efforts to prevent A2-betting shop use in the first place would not have been permitted and the wider question of A2 use as opposed to A1 use is unsatisfactorily answered in Lewisham, we as a group, set about attempting address that through the Local Development Framework.

Here's the relevant section of our submission for the over -arching 'Core Strategy':

“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.”