Report By Sam Adams, Wanstead & Woodford Guardian. Reproduced with permission.
Residents fear bookies gearing up for round two
A GROUP of angry residents have accused a betting shop of ruining the look of Wanstead High Street by erecting a ‘garish’ illuminated sign without planning permission. Jennings Bet was told to remove the back-lit sign after members of the Wanstead Society complained that it broke conservation area rules, and had not received council consent. The firm applied for permission retrospectively but was turned down after the council upheld the complaints of residents.
Andrew Wernick wrote to the council to complain on behalf of hundreds of Wanstead Society members. He welcomed the council’s decision to refuse planning permission but said he feared Jennings, which has six months to appeal against the ruling, will continue to display the sign anyway.
He said: “They still have the sign up, and it looks terrible. It doesn’t fit in with the look of the rest of the High Street at all. “The sign looks really garish, and makes this part of the road look like the grotty streets you see in other parts of London. “Conservation area rules say any alterations must preserve or enhance the look of the area, and this does neither of those things. “They broke the rules, but have kept the sign up, so what kind of signal does that send to other shops in the area?”
It is not the first time the betting shop has courted controversy, with many residents opposing its opening in March – claiming that because the High Street already had two bookmakers and it did not need another.
Colin Wilkinson, of Blake Hall Road, called for action to be taken to remove the sign. He said: “If they have broken the rules they should be made to take the sign down straight away, not be given time to appeal.
“What’s the point of having rules in place in the first place if people think they can get away with breaking them.”
Greg Knight, chairman of Jennings Bet, said: “This is an on going situation which is being dealt with.
At this stage we have no comment, other than our initial application has been refused, the decision of which we are appealing against.”