Calls to reject plans for 24-hour gambling centre
By Sarah Wood | 30th March 2023
A campaign has started in Cheltenham to stop a 24-hour gambling centre from opening.
Admiral Slots has put in a planning application to Cheltenham Borough Council to change the use of the former ShoeZone shop on 218 High Street for betting, gambling and gaming use.
The plan is for the proposed centre to operate up to 60 slot machines 24 hours a day, increasing betting and gambling within the town.
But local businesses and residents have expressed concerns, fearing an escalation of anti-social behaviour and downgrading of the area.
In recent years, the Brewery Quarter and Cheltenham Borough Council have made multimillion pound investments into the area to bring it up to a higher standard.
The council has recently invested £4.6m into the £7.7 million Minster Exchange project and purchased Poundland and two other nearby shops for £3.3m to enhance the area.
Demelsa Coleman, marketing manager of The Brewery Quarter, said: "The owners of The Brewery Quarter have invested millions of pounds in recent years into making the scheme a vibrant, upmarket destination that appeals to families and young professionals alike.
"Having a 24-hour gambling operation directly opposite the scheme - and next to the redevelopment at the Minster - goes totally against the aspiration to improve the surrounding area. This type of change of use would be totally inappropriate and would break up a defined retail pitch."
Tim Morgan, landlord of jeweller F Hinds, situated directly opposite the former ShoeZone site, said: "This application simply doesn't align well with key vision themes proposed under the Cheltenham Plan, which state: Assist in developing and maintaining an attractive retail offer in the town centre and other designated centres as well as Support development of Cheltenham's sporting, cultural, arts and tourism infrastructure to ensure that the Borough maintains its reputation as a cultural destination and continues to be an attractive place to visit.
"The change of use in this application will reduce the available retail space available in the town, so sits at odds with what the council is aiming to create. This is prime retail space in the central shopping area. Surely there must be other opportunities for the council to pursue, rather than reducing the amount of retail space available?
"There are also the wider repercussions, with the increase in anti-social behaviour detracting from Cheltenham being an attractive place to visit."
Punchline said: "This seems to be a crazy proposal in the light of nearly £90 million invested in the area in recent years. Businesses and the local community really need to stand up and make their displeasure heard if they want to stop this gambling site. It is definitely a case of wrong place, wrong time."
Businesses and members of the public can have their say on the application on the Cheltenham Borough Council website here: https://publicaccess.cheltenham.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=neighbourComments&keyVal=RRNKYBELGF900 by April 10.
A Facebook Group opposing the development has also been set up for regular updates.
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