Bookies plan for empty town premises

NEW life is to be breathed into a prime town centre premises which has stood empty for nearly two years in a deal officials have described as an “excellent opportunity” for the area.

NEW life is to be breathed into a prime town centre premises which has stood empty for nearly two years in a deal officials have described as an “excellent opportunity” for the area.

It is hoped bookmakers BetFred will set up shop in Bury St Edmunds within the next few months – providing licensing permissions are granted.

The company, which describes itself as the UK's largest independent high street retailer, will set up in the old JobCentre on the Cornhill, bringing a boost to the local economy.

The news of the deal with Done Brothers, which operates under the BetFred name, comes after several potential deals for the site fell down – and has been welcomed by property experts who helped mastermind the agreement.


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“This building has been empty for a couple of years and we are delighted to have done a deal,” said Jonathan Lloyd, a partner in George Hazell & Co, joint letting agents for the site.

“We have had a number of deals fall through on the property in the past for various reasons, but I think this will be an excellent opportunity for the town.”

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The company, which was established in 1967 by brothers Fred and Peter Done, currently owns more than 500 shops which employ 2,000 people nationwide.

It has an annual turnover in excess of £600 million, and plans to open a further 300 shops across the UK by 2008, spending an extra £70m on the expansion.

It is the second new name which hopes to open premises in the town in the near future, with coffee giant Starbucks also lodging a planning application with St Edmundsbury Borough Council for a café in the Buttermarket.

“We have exchanged conditional contracts and it is now a case of waiting on obtaining a magistrates' betting licence for running a bookmakers, which is currently ongoing,” added Mr Lloyd.

“Hopefully it should not take that long. The property has planning consent for that use, so there are no planning matters to resolve, but the company will want to do a full refurbishment of the ground floor.”

nAnyone interested in commenting on the BetFred application should write to the Clerk of the Betting, Gaming and Licensing Committee at Shire Hall, Bury, IP33 1HF by September 24.

A decision is expected to be made by licensing magistrates in October.

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