‘Wrong message’ - Staple Hill community unites against plans for third high street betting shop

More than 300 letters and online forms of objection have been submitted

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A community has united against plans to convert a former bank in Staple Hill into a betting shop. Incredibly, more than 300 letters and online forms in objection to the plans by BoyleSports have been submitted to South Gloucestershire Council.

Most say the High Street does not need a third betting shop, with Blackhouse Bet and William Hill already operating. Others say the proposed use of the former Lloyds Bank would be a detriment to the area.

The former Lloyds Bank building has been empty for three years following the bank’s departure, and the opening of a betting shop would increase pedestrian footfall and increase trips to the area, according to the planning statement submitted with the planning application.

However, people living in Staple Hill disagree. November 9 was the closing date for comments on the planning application, and a look at South Gloucestershire Council’s planning portal shows 96 letters had been received in objection. On top of that, 211 comments of objection have been left online.

Councillor Ian Boulton is among those opposing the planning application. He said: “This sends entirely the wrong message about our High Street which has enjoyed a reputation for being a vibrant town centre with a wide range of shops. This reputation is being seriously eroded-enabled by planning decisions in recent years. This is an opportunity to demonstrate that this Council actually values a diverse offering within our town centre. “

Councillor Boulton said the shop had been empty due to a long-term lease of the site, and now that it had come to an end this was the first proposal put foward. He said other options should be considered.

Atikul Islam, who also wrote in opposition to the planning application, said a restaurant, library, book store or fishmonger would be more appropriate. He added: “It is better to have abandoned building then a business that ruins the imagine of the whole high street and upsets the locals.”

And Zoe Almond left a comment on the planning portal against the proposal. She said: “The local community are struggling in this cost of living crisis and to encourage/ tempt people to gamble when they are struggling to pay for basics is, in my opinion, immoral, detrimental to the local community, potentially very harmful and will bring the high street down, just at a time when it’s status, appeal and vibe is on the up.”

Earlier this month, Bristol World published a community focus on Staple Hill. Writer Mark Taylor discovered an ‘up and coming’ area where local traders were doing everything to get people back shopping on the High Street again.

Among the people he spoke to was Freya Buckley-Staitm who owns The Friendly Eco and said businesses in the area were trying hard to keep in line with a changing demographic of the area, with more young families around.

Plans have also recently been submitted to South Gloucestershire Council to turn the former Old Factory Shop in Broad Street into a 24-hour gym. To date, no public comments have been submitted.

The council will make a decision on the planning applications for the betting shop, and the 24-hour gym, in the coming weeks.

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