Sheffield independent retailers’ angry at bookies plan

Liam Garcia and Saki Razak
Liam Garcia and Saki Razak
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Traders have been left fuming after councillors ruled they had no legal power to reject plans for a betting shop.

Division Street retailers fear plans to convert a store into a William Hill bookmakers could ruin the area’s status as a centre for niche and non-chain fashion stores.

Saki Razak

Saki Razak

However, Sheffield Council planning board members said there were not enough bookmakers nearby for it to reject the scheme on ‘saturation’ grounds, saying the nearest betting shop was at the Peace Gardens.

But Saki Razak, who owns Sa-kis fashion store next to the proposed William Hill, said: “Their information was wrong – the closest bookmakers is on West Street.

“Division Street is a unique area and it will be harmed by having a chain coming in and taking space away from independent shopkeepers.”

Liam Garcia, of The Common People, which currently operates the store earmarked for the William Hill as a temporary branch of the Aftershock clothing chain, said: “Aftershock have made an offer to the landlord, Henry Boot, to take on the unit permanently and were willing to pay more in rent than William Hill. We want them to reconsider.”

Councillors voted ‘reluctantly’ to approve the betting shop proposals, because planning officers said they were unlikely to be able to defend refusal if there was any appeal.

Tessa Barber, agent for William Hill, said: “The current tenant is short-term and the frontage is poor quality.

“There will be investment and the proposals would have clear benefit.”