OXFORD will see its sixth city centre betting shop open next year after planners granted permission for a Ladbrokes in St Aldate’s.
The bookmaker will move into the premises early next year with current tenant The Last Bookshop having moved to New Inn Hall Street.
Ladbrokes’ spokesman Richard Royal said: “We’re looking to open the shop in the first quarter of next year.”
He added that up to £200,000 would be spent on refurbishing the premises, with about six jobs being created.
Under the Gambling Act 2005, a licence cannot be refused on the grounds of the number of gambling premises in the immediate area.
Colin Cook, city council board member for city development, said: “My personal view is that gambling is a mug’s game, but in planning terms we don’t make moral choices.
“We would far rather see a shop in use rather than boarded up. We need to address gambling problems in other ways than stopping them opening up.”
The Last Bookshop has now reopened in New Inn Hall Street at premises formerly occupied by herbal specialist Culpeper.
Co-owner Jake Pumphrey said: “It was always a short let and we were not paying the full rental value, but I am disappointed there is going to be a betting shop in such a cultural area.
“It is a historic street, a tourist thoroughfare and home to Christ Church, the Museum of Oxford and the Town Hall.”
It is the second shop Mr Pumphrey and co-owner Nick Walsh have closed in little more than a year, having been forced to move out of the Lumleys Tea building in Jericho which is being redeveloped to make way for a new Co-op.
The Last Bookshop, which opened in St Aldate’s three years ago, specialises in selling titles at just £2 each.
It also a warehouse near Abingdon.
Culpeper closed after the business went into administration more than a year ago and the shop has remained empty ever since. The Last Bookshop has again moved in on a short-term deal at reduced rent.
Mr Pumphrey said: “Retailers are struggling and there are more empty properties which give more opportunities for people like me.
“It is good to have the opportunity to start a new chapter, and to continue our concept of guerrilla bookselling – taking on premises which might otherwise remain vacant on a short-term basis.
“I would also like to be back in Jericho – that will be my next hunting ground.”
He added that despite competition from online booksellers and the growth of electronic readers, people still want to read “real books”.