Dear Westminster Planning Department,
I am writing to oppose the granting of permission for a change of use in respect of the former Prince of Wales pub, Maida Hill- specifically to enable these premises to operate as a betting shop..
As a local resident, with a local workplace, and as a frequent user of the shops and market at the ‘Prince of Wales’ junction, I am convinced that a betting shop on this dominant site will be harmful to the area.
Considerable efforts have been made in recent years to improve the ‘piazza’ opposite the Prince of Wales, which had been plagued by crack-dealing and street drinking. It was necessary to have a dedicated police team just to deal with the problems in the area. Despite the combined efforts of the Council, Local Area Partnership, traders and residents, this has not been a quick or easy task and whilst much progress has been made, the area still faces challenges In recent months, there has been a significant increase in levels of street drinking at the junction, and this is heightening concerns amongst residents and traders that long-term improvements may not be sustained. There is a high level of deprivation in the surrounding streets and estates and several services close by providing support for vulnerable people, including Westminster Drugs project, Central and North West London Mental Health service and City Living for people with learning disabilities, so additional ‘stress’ to the area should be avoided.
Whilst it is important that a betting shop in this location would be the 8th within a short radius (not least because recent figures indicate that £5m was lost to Fixed Odds Terminals alone in north Westminster last year) what is particularly significant is the importance of this site. Any sustained improvement in the area must start with the ‘corner’ premises of the junction- of which the former Prince of Wales is easily the most physically significant. This site becoming a betting shop sends a signal that we have ‘lost’ the square as a managed, mixed, safe and potentially vibrant part of the community.
I therefore very much hope that Westminster is able to act in the community interest and refuse a permission for a change of use. premises.
Karen Buck MP