Sheffield city centre is in danger of being overrun with betting shops, campaigners have warned.
Central MP Paul Blomfield, businesses and Sheffield City Centre Residents Action Group are fighting plans for a new bookmakers in the heart of the city’s shopping scene.
Plans for a change of use to allow the former home of Sly clothing store on Division Street to become a William Hill shop have been submitted to Sheffield Council.
Pressure groups, including community interest company the Common People, say the council has received applications for bookmakers at a rate of one every four weeks in recent months.
They have urged planning councillors to protect the city from a ‘betting shop invasion’ and preserve Division Street’s reputation for independent retailers.
Peter Sephton, chairman of Sheffield City Centre Residents Action Group, said: “We now have 14 gambling facilities within the Inner Ring Road, with requests for yet more to open.
“This detracts from our desire to see a city centre which offers a variety of useful and interesting attractions to bring people in during the daytime.
“If we don’t stop this inexorable invasion, our city centre will lose its attractiveness as a magnet for shoppers wanting an individual retail experience.”
Members of the group have written to Mr Blomfield, who has promised to take the matter to MP Mark Prisk, the minister responsible for high streets and town centres
Mr Blomfield said: “In the current economic climate we’re seeing too many shopping streets dominated by betting shops, payday lenders and pawn brokers.
“The vitality and range of independent shops is what makes Division Street such a central part of the city centre’s shopping ‘offer’.
“Lots of my constituents are concerned by this planning application and I hope the council will do what it can to address these concerns.
“The Government has changed the rules so landlords no longer have to get permission to change the use of their premises.
“This move could see more betting shops and payday lenders spreading onto our high streets.
“Labour is calling for the Government to give more power to communities and councils to stop the spread”