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A street full of betting shops could be coming to Brighton
Residents and traders are worried that betting shops are taking over a major shopping street.
Concerns have been raised about the prospect of four bookmakers all within a few hundred yards in George Street, Hove.
William Hill and Ladbrokes already own shops in the key Hove shopping street and applications have now been submitted by Paddy Power and Coral.
Residents have raised concerns that if the applications were given the go-ahead, it would turn George Street into a corner of cheap booze and easy betting.
Paddy Power has applied for a gambling licence to take over the Lion D’Or bar and has also submitted two planning applications this week to install a new shop front, air conditioning units and satellite dishes.
The bar has been on the market for a year and could close as early as March if Paddy Power is successful with their application.
Coral also submitted a planning application last month for a new shop front, air conditioning units and satellite dishes for the former Santander bank branch.
Valerie Paynter, of Save Hove conservation group, described betting shops as ‘gambling joints’ which ‘draw on human weakness and desperation’.
Alan Moon, founder of the George Street Traders’ Association and owner of Cocoon Knits in George Street, said: “I think it’s the wrong direction for the street to take.
“We are trying to promote George Street in a more positive way and the only way we can do it is as a retail, pedestrianised area and if we are going away from that then we are losing ground.”
A Coral spokesman said: “Betting shops are an important part of the retail mix on high streets, generating footfall, paying taxes, creating jobs and they generate more footfall than other similar sized outlets apart from post offices and pharmacies.
“Bookmakers are one of the most regulated retailers on the high street and we want to attract a wide spectrum of customers to our stores, and can only do this by offering them a safe and responsible experience.”
Andrew Wealls, Conservative councillor for Central Hove, said: “Unfortunately there isn’t much the council can do in this instance, because the premises already have planning permission for this type of business.”
Christopher Hawtree, Green councillor for Central Hove and planning committee chair, bemoaned current planning legislation that classified betting shops in the same use- class as banks.
He added: “Despite this, I have been much encouraged by recent work with the street’s traders which led to a Christmas parade and I am regularly discussing further ideas with them.”