Words & pics by Ed King (image of Paulette Hamilton supplied)
BoyleSports (UK) are appealing a Birmingham City Council (BCC) decision to refuse planning consent for their proposed new betting shop at 56 High Street, Erdington.
After getting the knockback from the BCC Planning Committee on Thursday, 28 July – where all members present voted against the proposed application – the Ireland born betting giant has now taken its appeal to the national Planning Inspectorate.
Plans to convert the once HSBC bank into a betting shop were also heavily contested by local residents, community groups, and elected officials from both sides of the aisle.
The deadline for representation is 2 February, where people can contact the Planning Inspectorate either in favour of or against the appeal – with many local campaigners and elected representatives encouraging locals to once again help block the application.
To contact the national Planning Inspectorate over the BoyleSports appeal, visit www.gov.uk/appeal-planning-inspectorate – click ‘Start now’ and ‘search’ for case 3307082.
Originally presented to Birmingham City Council in March 2022, BoyleSports (UK) had applied to turn the planning consent for the ground floor premises at 56 High Street, Erdington, from ‘Class E’ into ‘Sui Generis’ – allowing them to covert old HSBC bank into a gambling outlet.
The planning requests from BoyleSport (UK) also included an application to turn the first floor of the building into ‘self contained flats’, where it had previously been used for ‘office space’.
Launched in Ireland in 1982 by John Boyle, BoyleSports entered the UK gambling market in 2019 after buying out the independent bookmaker Wilf Gilbert – taking over 13 betting shops across the Midlands.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, as of May 2022 BoyleSports operates ‘more than 340 shops across the UK and Ireland, including 45 stores in Northern Ireland and two on the Isle of Man.’
Erdington High Street currently has seven betting shops open, one of which is already operated by BoyleSports (UK).
Official objections to were made in the initial BCC Planning Committee meeting on 7 July by Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington), Sargent Ellis from the Neighbourhood Police Team (NPT), and ‘a local resident’.
The planning officer’s report cited ‘increased litter’, the threat of ‘anti-social behaviour/crime’, and ‘increased demand for on-street parking’ as driving factors behind the objections. T
he report further stated the site’s requested opening hours ‘are excessive’ and ‘would be detrimental to residential amenity’, which could also ‘impact on (Erdington’s) application for Levelling Up funding.’
Objections were also made by more local residents, campaign groups, and Paulette Hamilton – with the Erdington MP challenging the current appeal made by BoyleSports directly to Leader of the House of Commons.
BCC’s final decision to refuse BoyleSports’s requested change of planning consent for 56 High Street, despite it initially being ‘acceptable in principle’, was based on the grounds another betting shop ‘would fail to maintain or enhance the vitality and viability’ of the area and ‘would result in an increased fear of crime and anti-social behaviour’.
Crucially, the Council’s decision cited these reasons as conflicting with Policies TP21 and TP24 of the Birmingham Development Plan 2017, Policy PG3 of the Birmingham Development Plan 2017, and the National Planning Policy Framework.
Aside from galvanising local campaigners and residents, the application to green light another betting shop on Erdington High Street incensed political figureheads on both sides of the aisle – with more than one laying claim to the challenge.
Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington) told Erdington Local: “Thank you to all the residents who signed the petition I submitted objecting to the original application, and for all the residents who supported protests against the application, this helped secure the rejection of the application.
“Now we need one more push as the applicant has appealed to the independent national Planning Inspectorate.
“When I spoke against the application at the Planning Committee meeting, they agreed with myself and residents that the application was wrong for Erdington.
“We now need residents to comment again and show the Planning Inspectorate that this application for another betting shop is wrong for Erdington and they should reject the appeal.
Cllr Gareth Moore (Con, Erdington), who sits on BCC’s Planning Committee and had previously been legally unable to comment, added: “It is vital people looking to comment on the appeal focus on the reasons the Council gave for refusing the application.
“The proposed development would provide a non-retail use that would fail to maintain or enhance the vitality and viability of the Erdington Local Centre or protect its primary retail function.
“The proposed development would result in an increased fear of crime and anti-social behaviour and would fail to create a safe environment that promotes positive social interaction.”
Cllr Moore further identified the relevant policies within the Birmingham Development Plan 2017 and National Planning Policy Framework – as referenced above.
Local resident and campaigner Basharat Dad, who ran as a Labour candidate for the Erdington Ward in the May local elections, also told Erdington Local: “I led the original campaign and our petition, supported by our local MP Paulette Hamilton and Police, was signed by hundreds of residents, community organisations and businesses all objecting to another betting shop coming to our High Street.
“It was rightly refused by Birmingham City Council. The company has now gone to government and appealed against the council decision. I now have led another campaign so that residents can write directly to the Planning Inspectorate and object, we will keep on persevering!”
Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton (Labour) added: “Last year, following a campaign I led with local people, Birmingham City Council made the right decision and rejected the application that would have opened an eighth bookies on our High Street.
“The gambling bosses are now appealing to the Government to overturn the wishes of local people. It’s very telling when gambling bosses believe they stand a chance of securing another bookies on our High Street by appealing to Ministers. You can tell whose side the Government is on, and it is not the side of local people.
“I have submitted my objection to the appeal and would urge everyone make their voice count by saying no to another betting shop on Erdington High Street.”
Any concerned parties can contact the Planning Inspectorate, either in favour or against the appeal made by BoyleSports (UK), by visiting: www.acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk and searching for ‘case 3307082’.
For more on BoylesSport visit: www.boylesports.com
Anyone seeking help over issues around gambling, please visit: www.nhs.uk/live-well/addiction-support/gambling-addiction