Town centre will get another bookies despite major backlash

Plans for a third betting shop within a matter of yards of each other in Ossett town centre have caused loads of opposition.  (w640a317)
Plans for a third betting shop within a matter of yards of each other in Ossett town centre have caused loads of opposition. (w640a317)

Controversial plans to open a third betting shop in Ossett town centre were narrowly approved despite claims that it would be “harmful”.

Community groups, traders, councillors and local residents all objected to plans to open a Ladbrokes next to the current William Hill branch, on Towngate.

They said the town did not need a third bookies and that it was promoting the wrong sort of business.

But the plans were approved after the chairman of Wakefield Council’s planning committee, Coun Alan Garbutt, cast the deciding vote.

Votes from the rest of the committee were tied.

In a letter to Wakefield Council, Ruth Amos, chairwoman of the Ossett Civic Trust, said the recent Portas Review concluded that high streets were in a “crisis” and betting shops were only contributing to dwindling trade.

She said: “We wish to maintain the character of Ossett as a family-orientated town and feel very strongly that the setting up of another betting office is likely to detract from this character.”

Tony Sargeant, chairman of the Brickhouse Youth Foundation for Ossett, said putting the new bookmakers over the road from the Brickhouse youth club could be a bad influence on its young members.

In a letter, he said: “We provide facilities for some of the most vulnerable young people of Ossett who have nowhere else to congregate. The siting of another betting shop so close to their club house building will be a bad influence on these impressionable youngsters and could influence them in their life choices.”

Planning permission for four flats and two shop units was approved earlier this year.

But a new planning application was submitted after Ladbrokes expressed an interest in turning both units into one betting shop.

There is currently also a Coral branch at the Seemore Arcade.

Coun Tony Richardson said: “I feel the use will be of no benefit to the town centre and will have detrimental effect on the community.”

Acting on behalf of Ladbrokes, planning consultant Haris Kasuji, of RR Planning Ltd, said the new shop would create seven jobs.

He said: “The aim of town centre policy is to encourage a range of uses in our town centres, which will continue to be the case in Ossett. No existing retail use will be lost whilst at the same time, occupation by a national company such as Ladbrokes will ensure the long term viable use of the site.

“It is for the market to decide whether a third betting office is viable rather than the role of the planning system to restrict competition.”