Plans for Betfred Bookmakers in Haverfordwest Town Centre Refused due to Crime and Regeneration Concerns
Plans for a Betfred bookmakers in Haverfordwest town centre have been refused due to fears it would “increase the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour” and “negatively impact” the regeneration area.
Last December, Shaws the Drapers, at 6-7 Castle Square, went into liquidation, resulting in the closure of 28 shops throughout England and Wales, including Haverfordwest and Carmarthen.
Earlier this year, an application was submitted to county planners by Done Brothers (Cash Betting) Ltd for a change of use of the empty Shaws site to a Betfred betting shop.
Betfred – which already operates at nearby High Street – has been described as “the world’s biggest privately-owned betting company and one of the UK’s biggest privately-owned retail outlets” by Agent ID Planning.
The existing Betfred would, if the application was successful, become vacant, and be marketed as a retail or commercial unit, the applicants have said.
ID Planning said that, despite marketing over a nine-month period, the Shaws property has been unable to secure a viable retail or other operator.
Two objections raised concerns including it would “give prominence to a business type associated with addictive behaviours and financial hardship,” and was “likely to compound the square as a socially-blighted space”.
A report for planners said Castle Square is considered “the heart of the town centre in the county town of Haverfordwest and a gateway to the shopping streets that lead off it,” and was key to the ongoing ‘levelling up’ regeneration of the town.
It added: “Approval of the change of use would potentially result in an increased fear of crime and anti-social behaviour which would negatively impact on the council’s aim of regenerating the centre of the county town into a high-quality place to live, work and visit.”
The report warned that Betfred could decide to retain its existing High Street unit, or another bookies may occupy it, with the “potential for a proliferation of betting shops in a small area would be to the detriment of the health and wellbeing of people who have problems with gambling”.
It added: “The type of use is synonymous with a fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, and therein would negatively impact on the council’s aim to regenerate the area into a high-quality place to live, work and visit.
“Furthermore, adjoining the subject site to the north is public house Friars Vault. The coming and going of customers between the pub and the betting shop would add to the unwelcoming feel of the area to its detriment, increasing the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, negatively impacting upon the council’s aim to regenerate the area into a high-quality place to live, work and visit.”
Planners refused the application on the grounds it would lead to a permanent loss of retail floorspace, and “the occupation of the unit with a betting shop is not considered a positive approach to supporting the regeneration and growth of Haverfordwest of which Castle Square is the civic open space at the heart of the town centre”.
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