July 21, 2022 7.00 am This story is over 23 months old

Two Boston slot gaming centres to be approved despite preservation concerns

One of the stores has been empty for six years

Two more “adult gaming centres” are set to be approved in Boston next week, amid nearly 100 objections and a warning that they wouldn’t be appropriate in the historic town centre.

Merkur Slots plans for 14-16 Strait Bargate and Chongie Entertainment’s vision for 9 High Street will both be recommended for approval by officers at Boston Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday.

Merkur’s application has been called in by Councillor Neil Hastie, who said the location within the former Clarks Shoe Shop would be “inappropriate” due to the historical and heritage value of Strait Bargate.

He added that with two further establishments being located nearby, a third one would be too many.

The application has received 54 representations, with objectors saying the town does not need it, that it will deter visitors, and that it would devalue the town centre.

One comment said: “The building is one of the most important and iconic in the heart of the town centre and must be preserved.”

Heritage Lincolnshire also raisd concerns about the building which it said formed “a positive part of the Boston Town Centre Conservation Area”.

“Whilst not directly addressed in the drawings, gaming centres generally use opaque vinyls to block views into and out of the property.

“The property is located within the centre of the commercial area, and as such an active frontage is incredibly important for any property.

“There is a significant risk that given consent, the extensive windows on the ground floor commercial area would be blocked, having a detrimental effect on the character of the property and failing to preserve the conservation area.”

The Chongie’s application, which will go into the former Cash Generator shop has received 38 representations for similar reasons to Merkur.

Residents fear there are 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.

A Merkur Cashino centre elsewhere in the UK. Photo: Facebook/Cashino

Council officers, however, disagreed, saying 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.”