Traders in Wellingborough town centre are celebrating after plans to turn an empty shop into a bookmaker’s were unanimously refused by councillors.
Scores of traders and the town’s chamber of commerce had called for plans to turn the former Johnsons Dry Cleaners shop in Market Street, Wellingborough, into a branch of bookie’s Betfred to be turned down.
A group of traders turned out to air their views to Wellingborough Council’s planning committee, which considered the application last night. Five traders spoke at the meeting and told councillors a bookie’s would lose valuable retail space and would not bring shoppers into the town centre.
Sue Bailey from Colemans said: “We need to attract and keep the highest calibre of retailers, a mix is vital.”
She said taking out retail space by allowing the bookies plan “would not help things pick up”, as traders were still getting back on their feet after the effects of work in Silver Street and Sheep Street last year.
Kat Jones, of Unorthodox, said: “We need more shops, not more businesses like this, to offer variety and attract shoppers.”
She said she had been keeping an eye on customers at a bookie’s near her store and found they rarely carried shopping bags, reinforcing her view that a betting shop would not bring business to the town centre.
TT Nguyen of TT Jewellers Ltd said: “I think it would have a negative impact on the town centre if you dished out changes of use to, in my opinion, any Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to come along and fill an empty premises.”
Councillors unanimously voiced their distaste for the bookies proposals.
Cllr Martin Griffiths said: “I think we would struggle to find a more unsuitable location for a bettering shop.”
Cllr Tim Maguire said: “I do like a flutter when I come into town but we don’t need another betting shop.”
After the meeting Mark Jones, of the O2 shop and Most Wanted Homes, said: “We are very pleased.
“I think another betting shop in the town centre would be disastrous in that location and it would mean losing another shop.”
Maxine Richardson from Maxine of Morris Smith Jewellers said: “I’m absolutely delighted.”