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Forum topic: PG Action team leading fight to block new gambling venue

PG Action team leading fight to block new gambling venue

PGC Webmaster

19 Jun 2024 18:15 #7169

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[Original article]

Mati Valdivieso from Palmers Green Action team asks "Who wants another betting shop on our high street?"

former lloyds bank branch in green lanes palmers greenThis former Lloyds Bank branch in Green Lanes is currently swathed in scaffolding. Palmers Green Action team are campaigning to prevent it becoming yet another gambling venue

Who wants another betting shop on Palmers Green high street? If you don’t, find out here how you can object.

Planning application 24/01776/FUL for the 'Change of use of the ground floor from Financial Services (Class E(c)(i)) to Adult Gaming Centre (Sui Generis) with 24/7 hours operation and minor alterations to the shopfront' was submitted on 31.05.2024 in the Enfield Council portal and is due for determination by 26.07.2024.

The application is currently out to public consultation, which will expire on the 26th June. We will need to log our objections on the council’s website:

Click here to submit an objection

After the 26th June the case officer will make an assessment on the application, taking into account any representations received. The decision will be based on planning policies within the Local Development Framework.

According with the Development Management Document (DMD) adopted in November 2014, Chapter 5, Paragraph 5.9 Managing the Impact of Betting Shops, we could make representations based on Policy DMD 33:

Proposals for betting shops will only be permitted if all of the following criteria are met:

a. The proposed development is located within a local or district centre, or within the secondary shopping frontage of Enfield Town.

b. There should be a minimum of five non-betting shop units between the proposed site and the next betting shop premises, or at least 25m, between them, whichever is greater.

The new proposed Palace Amusement shop (on 369-371 Green Lanes) will open just one shop apart from the existing Ladbrokes on 363-365 Green Lanes (19 meters) and 24 metres away from Paddy Power.

c. The proposal should be designed such as to provide an active frontage during the daytime and evening, and to have a positive visual impact on the street.

The frontage of other Palace Amusement sites does not allow a visual engagementbetween the street users and the premises as they have black out glass and are dominated by screens or vinyl stickers and posters.

Hence the proposed change of use will be contrary to Policy DMD 33 (b) and (c).

Prior to the dissolution of Parliament, Bambos Charalambous was preparing to object on behalf of his constituents. The draft of his objection is in the box below.

Draft submission by former MP Bambos Charalambous

I wish to raise an objection on the above planning proposal reference 24/01776/FUL Change of use of the ground floor from Financial Services (Class E(c)(i)) to Adult Gaming Centre (Sui Generis) with 24/7 hours operation and minor alterations to the shopfront on the following grounds:

1. Policy DMD 33 “Betting Shops” states proposals for betting shops will only be permitted if all the following criteria are met:

a) The proposed development is located within a local or district centre, or within the secondary shopping frontage of Enfield Town;

b) There should be a minimum of five non-betting shop units between the proposed site and the next betting shop premises, or at least 25m, between them, whichever is greater; and

c); The proposal should be designed such as to provide an active frontage during the daytime and evening, and to have a positive visual impact on the street.

In terms of other “betting” outlets in Palmers Green, we already have:

Betfred, 319 Green Lanes,

Ladbrokes, 363-365 Green Lanes,

Paddy Power, 314 Green Lanes,

There is also a bingo outlet at Merkur Slots, 292 Green Lanes, LONDON, N13 5TW.

The Ladbrokes Betting Shop at 363-365 Green Lanes would only be separated by a single unit from that proposed and thus the proposed change of use would be contrary to Policy DMD 33 (b)

2 Enfield has policies which encourage the diversification of town centres to support viability and vitality including Policy DMD 27 ‘Angel Edmonton, Edmonton Green, Southgate and Palmers Green’ states that the Council will protect the existing retail uses by managing the loss of A1 retail. This would be a loss of retail.

3. Policy DMD 34 ‘Evening Economy’ states that development proposals should ensure there is no adverse effect on the amenity of neighbouring or local residents. Additionally, Policy DMD 68 ‘Noise’ seeks to ensure that developments are sensitively designed, managed and operated to reduce exposure to noise and noise generation. An additional adult gaming centre would have an adverse effect on the amenity of local residents and would generate noise.

4. The London Plan (policy SD6) states that over concentrations of ‘…betting shops, pawnbrokers, pay-day loan stores, amusement centres … can give rise to particular concerns. This would have an impact on impact on mental and physical health and wellbeing of residents, and would affect amenity, vitality, viability and diversity.

5. This proposal will cause harm to the vitality and viability of Palmers Green Town centre through the clustering of betting shops and gambling premises, including harm caused through anti-social behaviour.

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PG Action team leading fight to block new gambling venue

Neil Littman

20 Jun 2024 08:32 #7170

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Agree it's not good and hope the application gets rejected but with the current state of the council finances I would be surprised if it was prevented from going through. In the list of stories on the home page there is reference to the 'coffee shop' application in Winchmore Hill which was passed by the council despite over 50 written objections many of which mentioned planning contraventions. I won't go into the specific details here but the case against the cafe having an alcohol licence from 10am-10.30pm was very solid yet the council chose to ignore all of them and didn't refer to them when they approved the application. All about money.

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PG Action team leading fight to block new gambling venue

Darren Edgar

20 Jun 2024 09:08 #7174

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What improvement does this make to the Council's finances? Other than the application fee, which probably covers little more than admin, it's not like there's a CIL or s106 contribution attached to it.

Business rates whilst vacant will be being paid by the landlord. Council incompetence is one thing but too many seek Machiavellian money related explanations that are simply false.

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PG Action team leading fight to block new gambling venue

Neil Littman

20 Jun 2024 10:18 #7175

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So why did Merkur slots get approved despite massive opposition and campaign that went on for months? If it isn't about money (fair point) what is it about?

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PG Action team leading fight to block new gambling venue

Colin Younger

20 Jun 2024 10:33 #7176

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I've been trying for some months to discover how the Council were going to square the granting of a licence last year for an adult gaming centre with the policy banning clusters of betting shops.  Reading the application, the argument is that the council policy covers betting shops and not adult gaming centres, which legally are an independent classification. This is bad news.

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PG Action team leading fight to block new gambling venue

Karl Brown

20 Jun 2024 15:26 #7177

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The point Colin raises was covered at the CAPE. It seems that when the rules were set there was no such thing as an "adult gaming centre" and the category of "betting shops" was seen as covering the complete landscape of gambling outlets. That seemingly may change in a future iteration.
Neil wonders why given so many objections that Merker Slots was still agreed. Lots of objections themselves don't necessarily add up to a good case, and a good thing too, otherwise we would be governed by noise levels; more importantly in this case, there was no legal means to stop it, although I was impressed by a pretty aggressive stance against it by our council leader in particular.  I'd be surprised if the story is not somewhere on PGC 

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PG Action team leading fight to block new gambling venue

Basil Clarke

21 Jun 2024 23:44 #7178

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To discover how the campaign to stop Merkur Slots opening came to an end, read these two reports from 2021:

Anger as council cancels review of Merkur Slots gambling licence

Palmers Green Merkur Slots protest raised with Mayor of London

As Karl says the political leadership at the council had come round to resisting the new gambling premises, but in the end abandoned the fight in the light of expert legal advice (see the extract below).

News that the council had decided to cancel this morning's review meeting was communicated to campaigners, councillors and others involved just after 6pm yesterday (Tuesday 15 June) in an email from principal licensing officer Ellie Green:

Good evening

I write to advise you of the following information that I have received from our Legal Team:

“The council recently received a legal challenge to its acceptance of an application for review of a bingo premises licence under the Gambling Act 2005 on 3 grounds:-

“Ground 1: Cllr Caliskan is not an "Interested Party";

Ground 2: The Defendant had no power to embark on a review that may interfere with, let alone take back, a licence before it has even traded and without any other change in circumstances;

Ground 3: The Decision is substantively unlawful and founded on irrelevant considerations.”

As a result of this challenge the council sought legal advice from a counsel who is an acknowledged expert in gambling law. That advice made clear that the council could not be confident of defending such a challenge because “a good proportion of the evidence advanced in support of the review is highly speculative, based more upon macro societal trends and surveys, rather than specific facts and data emerging from this specific location”. Further, the advice also made clear that there may even be financial consequences against the council.

In light of this advice, the council’s Monitoring Officer decided it was necessary to reject the application for review, that had been previously accepted. As a result of this decision the licensing sub-committee hearing that would have taken place on 16 June 2021 has now been cancelled.”

Yours sincerely

Ellie

Ellie Green
Principal Licensing Officer
Licensing Team
Environment & Operational Services
Place Directorate
Enfield Council


Presumably, the probability of the council winning in a case brought by Merkur Slots was too low to justify the council gambling (sic) with the public's money.

However, there are precedents for councils successfully blocking the opening of similar businesses where the circumstances are different in some way - see New gambling arcade successfully fought off... in Waltham Forest .

This case may be sufficiently different from Merkur Slots. Unfortunately, given the dire finances of our council (and almost all English councils, following 14 years of austerity), they will have to be very sure that they won't end up paying enormous legal fees and costs.

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PG Action team leading fight to block new gambling venue

Neil Littman

27 Jun 2024 08:29 #7183

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What I should have been more clear about is the effect on the council finances challenging any kind of application. I had forgotten the reason why they pulled back from the previous challenge against Merkur Slots which was clarified elsewhere in this post. An FOI was obtained (as attached) on the levels of spending by various London   councils making legal challenges against various planning applications. Ealing came top of the list with over £500k spent on fees compared to Camden who spent £58k. Enfield spent £504k.  

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