PADDY Power is currently applying for a license for a new city centre location that, if successful, would see five bookmakers operating within a 500-metre radius of High Town.

New legislation proposed last week will give councils more power to refuse high street bookies planning permission, particularly when there is seen to be a high number of betting shops in a certain area.

However those measures will not come in before the consultation period for the proposed St Peter's Street Paddy Power closes on May 19.

Communities minister Stephen Williams said: “Across the country many people are concerned about the explosion in the number of betting shops in some high streets.

“This is why we are now giving councils tough new powers to prevent the proliferation of betting shops in their area.”

There was only one objection when in January Herefordshire Council passed a change of use application, allowing the shops previously occupied by Phase Eight and Jingo to be converted.

Under current classifications, the buildings were changed to A2; a catch-all definition for financial services such as banks and estate agencies, as well as bookies, that is being scrapped under the new regulations.

Paddy Power then applied for a license, with the consultation period opening on April 22.

Paddy Power spokesman Rory Scott said: “The shop is not being fitted out as we’re currently waiting on final approval.

“All being well, it will be open approximately in July.”

While gambling is rising nationally, according to the Office of National Statistics, this is the only application to for a new license in Hereford in the last 12 months.

Herefordshire Council took over gambling licensing in 2007, with five premises already operating within a few hundred metres of High Town. William Hill has shops on Widemarsh Street and St Owen's Street while Sporting Bet has a site on Commercial Street.

XXXX and bets can also be placed in Cashino Gaming in Eign Gate.

However in that time betting shops complexions have changed dramatically, with the Campaign for Fairer Gambling last year releasing a report that demonstrated the profligation of gaming machines.

Those machines, Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT), were spared strict measures suggested by campaigners – including reducing the maximum stake to £2 – in the measures proposed by sports minister Helen Grant last week.

Betting shop staff will however have to check in with players who want to stake more than £50 on FOBT.

Paddy Power’s Andy McCue was among those speaking out against the measures.

however on the same day they were announced, shares in fellow high street betting giant William Hill – who themselves have location on St Peters Street – rose by 6.1 percent .