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All bets are off for William Hill after protest against new store in Palmers Green
A gambling firm has withdrawn an application to open a store in Palmers Green after shoppers showed their anger at a surge in bookmakers.
William Hill withdrew its planning application to open in Alderman’s Hill, just one street away from another shop in Green Lanes, this morning, at the same time that approximately 50 people gathered outside the building to protest against it.
The company told the Enfield Independent that it has changed its mind on the application, which would have made it the ninth betting shop along Green Lanes and Alderman’s Hill, for “commercial reasons”.
Two new shops have opened in the last two months, with Go Bet replacing the Video Fair rental store when it closed down, and Paddy Power opening in the former Rimini restaurant which moved to bigger premises.
At this morning’s protest, Karl Brown, of Old Park Road, said that a third of the people who responded to a survey he held about the future of Palmers Green complained of the increase in betting shops unprompted.
“There’s been a lot of bad feeling about the rise in betting shops in the last few months – when you get 50 people bringing it up you know there’s a problem.”
Betting shops can currently open up in any building previously used as a restaurant, café, pub, bar or hot food takeaway without need to apply for ‘change of use’ planning permission from the council.
Retail expert Mary Portas tried to convince the Government to give betting shops their own planning class in her recent review of high streets, but her proposals were not endorsed by ministers.
Enfield Southgate MP David Burrowes called on Enfield Council to use an Article Four Direction – a rarely used power which can put a specific control on what types of development can be built in an area – to stop the “excessive and disproportionate” proliferation of gambling firms.
He said: “This high street has a character and it is one we want to keep. There are now eight betting shops in a quarter-mile radius in Palmers Green.
“Large numbers of people have turned out this morning and that shows the strength of feeling about this.
“We need diverse retail shops in Palmers Green in order to retain its character and viability as a high street.”
Dirk Vennix, who leads the Association of British Bookmakers, told the Enfield Independent last month that there was no truth in claims that the industry targets deprived areas.
The Article Four powers are rarely used as they are expensive, complex and put the council at risk of having to pay high compensation costs in certain circumstances.