Opponents of a proposed gambling joint in Barnet were celebrating after it was denied planning permission this week, but they fear it could win on appeal.

Around 70 residents attended Monday’s Chipping Barnet planning meeting to object to the conversion of a High Street Mothercare store into a betting centre.

The Agora Gaming Ltd application was denied on the grounds it could discourage future retailers and increase crime.

There were concerns the centre would attract under-age customers, encourage gambling, destroy the character of the community, and create noise.

Maria Guiva, of nearby Calvert Road, acts as legal adviser for Sebright, Puller, Alston and Calvert (Spaces) residents’ association, and was one of 239 residents to formally oppose the plans.

She welcomes the result but fears the centre might still go ahead if Agora is granted a gambling licence at a meeting to be held on Monday.

“Agora is used to losing in the first instance and then winning on appeal, so we will have to hope it won’t get licensing permission,” she said.

“A gaming centre is the last thing Barnet needs. What we need is improvement and regeneration, and for the street to be an attractive place for shoppers.”

Chris Nightingale, 63, of Calvert Road, said: “We just about have sufficient retailers to make the high street a viable shopping street, but retailers we would like to see coming to the area will be put off.

“Hopefully lots of people will come to the licensing meeting to stop this going ahead.”

An Agora spokesman called residents’ concerns “unfounded”. He argued the centre would create limited disturbance, with limited impact on the conservation area and that the opening hours would be similar to other pubs and restaurants in the area.

He said he was “not sure yet” if Agora would appeal the decision.