Adult gaming centre plans could be approved despite fears over antisocial behaviour
Plans to turn a former high street store into an adult gaming centre could be approved next week despite concerns that such a development “will not contribute to the regeneration” of the city centre.
The application for the former That’s Entertainment, on Regent Street, proposes that the property is used for bingo and digital slot machines, with a focus on low-stake gaming and prizes ranging from £5 to £500.
Gaming company Merkur Slots, which is behind the application, put forward the plans for the long-term empty property in the city centre earlier this year.
It comes after the company previously announced its intention to invest over £10m on high streets across the UK this year.
The company said that should the plans be approved, seven new jobs would be created for the area and that the gaming centre will be open 24 hours a day.
On Monday (October 3) members of the council’s planning committee will be asked to consider two applications from Merkur Slots – one for a change of use of the building and another for signage.
However the application has been met with concern by the local community council, which has voice strong objections to the proposed use of the empty shop.
In a statement the community council said that the proposals are “unacceptable in the High Street” and that they will “not contribute to the regeneration of the city centre by attracting extra people into the town and developing retail opportunities.”
The community council went onto say: “The proposals for 24 hour opening hours are also unacceptable.
“There is already anti-social behaviour in the area around MacDonalds and this change of use if approved is likely to exacerbate the antisocial behaviour problems.”
One objection was also received from a member of the public, who argued that gambling should not be encouraged and that “too many people already need help with addictions.”
Despite the concerns the proposals have been recommended for approval by the council’s interim chief planning officer.
In a report due before the committee, the officer addressed concerns about the presence of such a premises on the high street and referenced a nearby bookmakers and other non-retail uses in the vicinity.
The officer said: “With regards to vitality and viability of the town centre it should be noted that the existing unit is currently vacant and therefore makes no contrition to either.
“Returning a vacant unit to use and the potential for the proposed use to contribute towards footfall within the town centre means the proposals will not detrimentally impact upon the viability and viability of the town centre and as such there is no conflict with Policy S1.”
Commenting on the fears around antisocial behaviour, the planning officer went onto say: “The applicants have already applied separately for a licence and this has been granted.
“The Council, as licensing authority, will therefore have been satisfied that the applicants had demonstrated that the operation of the premises will meet the above objectives.
“The licensing application was not subject to objections from the Police or Environmental Health. The licence will also be subject to regular monitoring.
“In addition to the above, no evidence has been presented by the Community Council to demonstrate that the proposals will cause or exacerbate anti-social behaviour in the town centre and therefore such concerns would not warrant refusal of the application.”
Both the application for advertising consent and a change of use of the property will be debated by planning committee members on Monday 3 October at 4pm.
The meeting will also be webcast live for public viewing.
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