THERE will be a fourth betting shop in Thatcham, after Coral had its plans approved to convert half the former HSBC bank in the Broadway.
Coral will join fellow bookies Stan James in the Broadway, Tom Carroll in High Street and Ladbrokes in Crown Mead.
Coral said that the Thatcham shop would have a positive impact, as it would increase the viability and vitality of the town centre.
The chairman of Thatcham’s Chamber of Commerce, Jeremy Cottam, agreed, saying: “We welcome competition. Town centres have to be seen not only as retail, but services too.
“It’s good to see new businesses opening in Thatcham town centre.
“It shows a level of confidence in the future of the Broadway and the footfall for all the other shops by bringing in people to the town centre.”
However, Thatcham Town Council had previously objected to the plans, saying that diversity in the town centre would be “undermined” and that there was an insufficient market to support four betting shops in the town.
Town councillors felt that the loss of the unit to a betting chain would prevent an independent retailer from opening there and that gambling undermined local wellbeing and lifestyle.
Commenting on the town council’s concerns, West Berkshire Council said that a fourth betting shop “would not result in a cluster of such uses”.
It added that the market to support the shop was not a planning consideration.
Information submitted by Coral said that betting shops attracted greater footfall than other shops and services.
The bookmaker’s research also suggested that betting shops enhanced vitality and viability as a majority of customers, many from the local area, combined their visit with other shops.
District council officers said they were unsure how the locations chosen in the study related to Thatcham, but added: “Nevertheless, the study is not pivotal to the decision of this application, as overall it is not considered that the use would have a detrimental impact upon the viability and vitality of the town centre.
“This is a town centre location and considering there are a mixture of uses alongside the flats, including the taxi rank which lies directly outside the application site, and fast food vans located in the car park during evening hours, it is not considered that the proposed betting shop would be significantly detrimental to neighbour amenity.”
Coral will need to apply for a licence to operate the shop, which will employ three members of full-time staff and three part-time staff.