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Will Darlington planners take a gamble on High Row betting shop?
A MYSTERY objector has hit out at plans for a betting shop in a prime Darlington town centre location.
Nick Appleyard wants to breathe new life into the derelict former Jessops store, in High Row, by opening a bookmakers’.
Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee will consider the application in a meeting next week.
A report prepared for member states that planning consultants DPP has submitted an objection on behalf of an anonymous client.
DPP argues that the development would be at odds with a planning policy that exists to ‘safeguard and enhance the vitality and viability’ of the town centre.
It adds that the application, if approved, will lead to an ‘over-concentration’ of such premises within Darlington’s main shopping area, which already has an abundance of betting shops.
DPP adds: “The loss of a retail unit will have a negative impact on the viability of this prime retail location.”
A letter in support of the application was received from planning consultants Prism Planning, which occupies premises next door to the planned development.
It stated: “We believe that it is important that High Row maintains attractive shop and that footfall is sustained.
“High Row contains several empty and unattractive shop fronts that are not attractive to retail development.
“We cannot see that there is any benefit to the vitality and viability of the town centre by focusing properties to remain empty. The property has been marketed unsuccessfully.
“There is a natural ‘churn’ of retail property in any town centre and as retail patterns change, there will be opportunities to look at the types of business that it might be possible to bring to High Row.”
Planning officers are recommending the scheme for approval, subject to conditions being met.
Officers concluded that, although the plan as at odds with the policy seeking to safeguard prime retail units for shopping, no interest has been shown in such a development.
The report adds: “Information has been provided showing that betting offices can help generate linked trips.
“The proposal would also remove a vacant unit and taking these factors into account the proposal is not considered to undermine the shopping characteristics of the area.”
The committee meets at 1.30pm, on Wednesday (October 23), at the town hall.
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