Councillors have rejected a bid to open an adult-gaming centre in an historic town centre shop unit in Boston – but another was approved elsewhere in town.
Merkur Slots plans for 14-16 Strait Bargate and Chongie Entertainment’s vision for 9 High Street (formerly Clarks shoes) had both been recommended for approval by officers at Boston Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday.
However, members said the Strait Bargate plans – set to go in the former Clarks shoe shop – was in a highly prominent corner position and that it would have an adverse impact on the character and appearance of the area and vitality of the primary shopping frontage.
The pair of applications had received a combined total of nearly 100 objections as residents and business owners feared they would not be appropriate.
Merkur’s application was called in by Councillor Neil Hastie, who said with two further establishments being located nearby, a third one would be too many.
The Chongie’s application, which will go into the former Cash Generator shop has received 38 representations for similar reasons to Merkur.
Residents feared there were enough gambling premises in town and worry about the mental impact on users of the centre.
There are concerns vulnerable people could be trapped or exploited.
Campaigners gathered outside the council officers on Tuesday.
Councillor Hastie told the BBC: “We’re an old traditional historic market town. Gaming sites, yeah it’s okay for seaside town, but not for here.”
Jake Stapleton said: “I’ve got a young child myself. When I walked around town as a child, I was drawn into these spaces.
“They’re big, exciting places and that’s alright if there’s one of them but if there’s one on every corner, what’s going to happen soon as she turns 18, she’s going to be straight in there and I don’t want that.”
Evie and Florence Welberry said: “Why can’t you do anything else for Boston? We could have more places for us youngsters to go.”
Council officers had said the Merkur site would not impact the Conservation Area and that both plans are considered an “acceptable leisure use within a town centre”.
“As the site has been vacant since December 2016, bringing it back into use would add to the vitality and viability of the primary shopping frontage,” they said, about the Merkur plans.
In both plans they add: “On balance, the proposal is considered to comply with [planning policies] and any negative impacts to the health and well-being of the community do not outweigh that policy compliance.”Development