Anger over plans to move betting shop in Waterlooville
MORE than 100 objections have been made over plans to open a betting shop in a prominent town centre location.
Betfred is eyeing up the empty corner unit, opposite the bandstand in London Road, Waterlooville, in a move from the other end of the high street.
It has angered residents who say the building could be put to better use and vulnerable people will be at risk of getting into debt.
The application to Havant Borough Council comes just a week after the go-ahead was given to a slot machine centre opposite St Faith’s Church, in the centre of Havant.
There was such fierce opposition to the gaming centre that the word ‘no’ was daubed all over the proposed site at the former White Hart pub by angry protesters.
In a letter to the council Stella Kordun, from Waterlooville, said: ‘A betting shop in the area will not add anything socially useful or progressive to a town already in decline.
‘It is likely to add to the financial problems of people who are already in debt.’
And Susan Small said: ‘I do not approve of the growing business of betting which encourages addictive behaviour in vulnerable people.
‘A business such as this will take money from our local economy where more traditional businesses in Waterlooville are already finding it hard to survive.’
As it stands, the council has no grounds to turn down the application for a change of use from a retail building to a betting shop.
Under delegated powers it can be approved by planning officers without going before the planning committee.
But David Crichton, the former chairman of the now-defunct Waterlooville Town Forum, has ‘red-flagged’ the application.
That means a local councillor has been asked to take it to the committee so it will get a public hearing.
Mr Crichton said: ‘It is overwhelmingly clear that residents do not want this to go ahead.
‘However, I believe that there may be no strict planning rules to prevent it going ahead which raises the question of whether public opinion should be taken into account in making a decision.’
Waterloo ward councillor Mike Sceal said he would prefer to see a small, independent retailer in the unit but no-one has come forward.
He added: ‘I will red flag this on behalf of residents but it is a very difficult situation for the council.’
Betfred did not respond to calls for a comment by The News.