Bookie plan for prime Doncaster retail site rejected after health concerns raised

Plans to open a bookies in one of Doncaster's highest profile retail areas have been rejected - because it would be '˜bad for residents health'.

Friday, 26th May 2017, 5:27 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 8:06 pm
Bookie Ryan Holmes wants to open a bookies shop in st Sepulchregate, Doncaster

The shop would have opened on St Sepulchre Gate in the town centre, under proposals which had been lodged with the Doncaster Council.

But the scheme has been rejected after concerns were raised by public health officials.

Caroline Temperton, from the borough’s public health office, said she was concerned problem gambling was an issue in the Doncaster town ward where the bookies would be opened.

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She said the typical age and income groups living in the area were at risk of problem-gambling.

She said information indicated that the community had higher than average numbers of people from groups at risk of becoming problem gamblers.

She said: “Problem gambling not only has a detrimental impact on the health of the individual involved but also on family and friends and is likely to increase the demand for (health) services.”

She did not support the scheme.

She said in the case of the Town ward, which is the most deprived area in Doncaster, 97.7 per cent of the population lived within 1km of a betting shop.

Adrian Banks, investment officer at Business Doncaster also objected to the scheme at a time when the organisation was working on redeveloping the town centre to attract more retailers to attract shoppers into the town centre.

He said: “As our activities increase around the area, opposite is a prime open space area for family activities particularly during the school holidays, and as more families are attracted to this area, a bookmaker sends out the incorrect signal to children who will use the space for entertainment and socialising.

“It is important that the property is occupied by a retailer that can draw people from around the town. “

Assistant director of development Scott Cardwell said of the decision to reject the scheme: “The proposed change of use is deemed to be unacceptable on account of the permanent harm it would cause to the vitality and viability of the town centre’s retail area and primary shopping frontage.

“The proposed betting office is located in the town ward, which is a ward of Doncaster that has an over representation of residents with demographic characteristics that are linked to problem gambling. The proposed betting shop, if approved, will encourage a rise in problem gambling thus resulting in a negative effect to the health and wellbeing of residents living within the town ward of Doncaster.”

Bookie Ryan Holmes, the man behind the plan, who operates two bookies shops already under the name Bet Extra, said he would appeal the decision.

He said the building had been vacant since 2014 and the shop would have created four jobs.

He added: “I think they are in denial about the situation with retail in the town centre. This shop has been empty for two and a half years.

“Betting offices are the safest place to gamble - I’m aware of concerns from the public, but I think it is better people gamble in a betting shop on than on the internet at 3am. Our staff can looking out for anyone with a problem.”