7 St Michael's Mansions Ship Street Oxford Oxfordshire OX1 3DE

7 October 2018

 Change of use of ground floor and basement of no. 7 St Michael’s Mansions from (Use Class A1) retail use to Sui Generis (Betting Shop). 

 Ship Street is a charming and tranquil street and an asset to the Central Conservation Area. It is important that a suitable retail occupant is found for these premises. The Conservation Area would be harmed by the opening of a betting shop in the street which is characterised by garish frontages: see photographs attached.

The present Ladbrokes outlet in Market Street is at first floor level and is not obvious to the public going along Market Street.  The ground floor entrance is easy to miss.  The situation in the former Russell and Bromley ground floor shop, which has extensive shop windows, is very different.

We strongly support the case made in the comments from the ID Town Planning Consultancy.  In summary:

  • No marketing evidence has been produced to show that an A1 occupant cannot be found. Because central Oxford is in a process of adjustment following the opening of the Westgate Centre, lower rents, possibly substantially lower, will be needed to attract interest in areas like Ship Street.  Where is the evidence that this has been seriously tested?
  • The application is contrary to existing Local Plan policies and the NPPF. It does not meet the criteria of Policy RC5 which is intended to prevent the over-concentration of non-Class A outlets.
  • The proposal does not involve a simple like for like movement because the existing betting shop is not at street level.
  • It is unlawful to anticipate what might or might not be in the next Local Plan, which has still several stages to follow, and might well be changed before adoption during the course of the next two years.
  • The application would harm the Central Conservation Area without countervailing public benefits.

We urge refusal of this application.