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news, views and issues around Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath and Woolwich, south-east London – what you won't read in Greenwich Time

Bookies eye up Lewisham’s old Nationwide branch

with 15 comments

Since Nationwide Building Society shut its inner south-east London branches last May, its former premises have remained empty.

But after the building society that’s “on your side” abandoned us last year, one of its former offices could be about to find a depressingly predictable new use. Yup, another bookmakers.

Corals has applied to turn the old Lewisham Nationwide into a new betting shop – the planning application has closed, but the licensing application is still active (for details, contact Lewisham Council). It’s hardly as if Lewisham High Street needs a new bookies – a Paddy Power and William Hill sit side by side just a few yards away, with a Joe Jennings a little further up. After events in Deptford, it’ll be interesting to see what they decide.

Nationwide’s decision has meant shopping streets starting 2012 with shut-down shops – over the past few weeks I’ve seen no signs of activity at their Greenwich, Blackheath, Woolwich, Catford and Peckham branches other than “to let” signs. If you know anything different, please feel free to share it.

Footnote: While on money-related matters, some readers may have seen ads for loan sharks Wonga appear on this website, particularly on mobile phones. I hoped WordPress had better standards than that. I’ve just upgraded to an ad-free package so hopefully they should no longer appear.

Written by Darryl

16 January, 2012 at 12:10 pm

15 Responses

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  1. How ironic!! So our money’s good enough to bet away but not to save…..

    Lucy N

    16 January, 2012 at 12:16 pm

  2. Like Lewisham borough doesn’t have enough betting shops!

    creepylesbo

    16 January, 2012 at 3:31 pm

  3. It appears “Dung” Bros are, yet again, appealing the inspector’s decision re Betfred in Deptford. When you own the Tote you can just keep going untill you get your way it seems.

    Julian Kingston

    16 January, 2012 at 5:16 pm

  4. Unfortunately, in Deptford we only managed to keep out Betfred (aka Done Bros) because of an historical covenant attached to the Financial A2 planning class that applied to the previous Halifax. When Betfred appealed the government inspector changed this to allow any Financial use except betting shops. Today we received the news they are appealing to the government inspectorate again and will have a different inspector this time round. So the fight goes on…and on…and on…meanwhile, Abermarle & Bond opened the fourth pawnshop in time for Xmas, ripped out the old shop front and installed a new one that doesn’t conform to standards before planning permission was granted (planning then had to grant ‘retrospective’ permission, rather than enforce its own rules). I hope your post garners a few objections to Coral!

    Sue

    16 January, 2012 at 5:58 pm

  5. Most of the ex Nationwide Branches apart from Woolwich’s are under offer. As bookmakers come under planning class A2 the same as for banks and building societies, technically they don’t need planning permission only a licence to operate. Mary Portas is recommending to the government as part of her High Street review a separate planning status for Bookmaker’s.

    Unfortunately, with the avalanche of retail administration’s continuing across the country it’s very likely that the Lewisham application for Nationwide’s old premises is likely to succeed.

    In fact, I am surprised if South East London is such a poor bet for Nationwide why they didn’t pull out of Margate one of the worst High Street’s in Britain. The queues at Eltham Nationwide are horrendous

    Gabriella Hudson

    16 January, 2012 at 7:13 pm

  6. In a retail update for Woolwich it seems to get worse and worse, Evans are closing down with the shop to let and Priceless shoes will also close as the store is not one of those brought out of administration.

    Peacocks and Bon Marche are also likely to go in to administration which will affect Lewisham, Eltham and Woolwich. I think this is a sign of things to come in retail this year.

    Gabriella Hudson

    16 January, 2012 at 7:22 pm

  7. Just some advise for those who do attempt to object to the licence application – don’t make your whole argument about “there are too many betting shops around here”. The Council can’t consider them (not yet, not until some sort of saturation policy comes into effect).

    If you want to stand a chance of getting it overturned you’ve got to give strong example as to why another betting shop would considerably endanger the “licensing objectives”. These are:

    (a) preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime,
    (b) ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and
    (c) protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

    —–

    (c) is a strong one if there is a school nearby, or (arguably) in an area of poverty.

    Chris 2

    18 January, 2012 at 1:27 pm

  8. But thing is with jobs continuing to go, at the rate they are in retail, Peacocks and Bon Marche now in administration this evening and the Woolwich Peacocks is closing for a refit I bet it doesn’t reopen, I think job creation at any cost is now the priority over people’s objections. Bit like objecting to a Domino’s or a Wetherspoons pub it won’t be stopped

    Gabriella Hudson

    18 January, 2012 at 6:20 pm

  9. @Chris 2, it doesn’t look like a license application, just an application for permission to alter the shopfront which is a planning matter. If it is in a Conservation Zone there are rules about satellite dishes and shopfronts, but bookies and pawnbrokers usually ignore these.

    BTW re: License applications – these are never turned down, since “crime and disorder” is interpreted as “serious organised crime” and “riots”; and as long as children are not permitted to enter the premises, the proximity to a school is irrelevant. You could argue that FOBT machines are not “fair and open” ways of gambling (since they are programmed for the punter to lose) but you wouldn’t win!

    @Gabriella, bookies don’t create that many jobs. They are often staffed by only two people and sometimes only one (on Sundays and evenings) which is why their union is constantly kicking up a fuss, since the staff are so vulnerable to attack when working alone.

    Sue

    18 January, 2012 at 6:49 pm

  10. Additionally, as there is often only one staff member, it does mean that police are constantly called to betting shops to act as ‘bouncers’ and protection for those lone staff members. We do get called to evict the kids from the betting shops if they have gaming machines too – which may be another angle. If only you had more time you could probably request numbers of times police have been called to Lewisham betting shops to deal with such things.

    creepylesbo

    19 January, 2012 at 5:27 am

  11. @Sue but they are still jobs even if it is only 1 or 2. I don’t like betting shops as there are far too many in Greenwich and they scare people away from town centres but unless they are put in to a separate planning class from former A2 banks and building societies this will continue to be a problem in the future.

    Fact there are now more betting shops than convenience stores on Britain’s High Streets. It does seem morally wrong to tempt people with the least money to bet what they don’t really have to lose.

    Gabriella Hudson

    19 January, 2012 at 10:00 am

  12. Joan Ruddock’s Bill to change the planning rules re betting shops is on the House of Commons agenda for tomorrow

    http://services.parliament.uk/calendar/#!/calendar/Commons/MainChamber/2012/1/20/events.html

    Most Private Members Bills fall by the wayside owing to lack of time and I don’t know what her chances are of getting it debated.

    Betting shops can, in moderation, be a useful part of the community, providing people with a source of interest and company. As everyone has said the problem is their proliferation which I suspect is due to the profitability of the gambling machines.

    Paul Webbewood

    19 January, 2012 at 11:39 am

  13. @ Sue.

    Sadly you’re right (though I should like to hope that an application has been turned down sometime, somewhere)! People should still lodge their objection though. If nothing else, it increases the chance of a successful review further down the line should “serious” problems actually start to occur. And I don’t think such scenarios are unwinnable by a group of residents – it just might take an appeal and a good lawyer!

    Interesting point about the FOBTs.

    Chris 2

    19 January, 2012 at 12:53 pm

  14. @Chris.

    You are right, in that the same criteria can be used (and we did in Deptford) when objecting to a planning application.

    Whilst the likely increase in antisocial behaviour, and the detrimental effects on local shoppers and on local children and vulnerable people may not be considered by the Licensing Committee, any objections to a Planning application based on these criteria are highly relevant, especially when argued in the context of Lewisham’s Core Srategies. BTW it is not that the Licensing Committee do not allow these considerations, it is simply that if they turn down a License Application, the betting shop appeals and it is at this point the law is mis-interpreted in favour of the bookies, and Lewisham are left paying the appeal costs.

    Sue

    21 January, 2012 at 12:15 pm

  15. @ Paul

    Ms Ruddock was not optimistic about her 10 minute bill, but hoped it would raise awareness. She has advised us to lobby Boris, who has already lent his support. We also need to encourage the Tories to back Mary Portas’s recommendations.

    BTW, the betting industry has been lobbying the Gambling Select Committee to increase the number of FOTB machines allowed in each shop (presently only four). If they succeed, each betting shop would become a mini casino. The highly profitable (and addictive) FOTB machines are the main reason a company may want to open more than one branch in a street.

    Sue

    21 January, 2012 at 12:26 pm


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