Plans get go-ahead to open 'adult gaming centre' in Sunderland which will create 12 jobs

Plans for a late-night ‘adult gaming centre’ in Sunderland city centre have been given the green light.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 6:57 pm
Vacant unit at Holmeside, Sunderland city centre (February 2021)

Earlier this year, a planning application was lodged with Sunderland City Council to change the use of a business unit at 4-4A Holmeside.

The building was formerly used as a William Hill betting shop but has remained vacant for some time.

New plans from Cashino Gaming Ltd aimed to set up an adult arcade on the ground floor, operating under the Merkur Slots brand, offering low stakes slot machines, bingo machines and tablets.

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According to a planning statement from the applicant, adult gaming centres do not offer fixed-term betting terminals normally associated with betting shops.

Instead, they aim to provide a place for people to “spend their spare change, have a game of bingo and enjoy their favourite pastime.”

Applicants also confirmed that adult gaming centres typically operate on a 24-hour basis and that similar hours were being proposed at Holmeside, Sunderland.

However, the opening hours were scaled back after Northumbria Police raised concerns during a council consultation.

A statement from the force’s ‘designing out crime officer’, which was submitted to council planners, set out the reasons behind the request.

It said: “In conclusion, with due regard to our crime risk assessment, the existing proliferation of gambling opportunities and the likely policing, crime and disorder implications we would ask that the opening hours beconditioned to restrict operation to 8am till midnight.”

Objections from several city residents were also lodged, with one comment saying 24-hour opening hours would set a “dangerous precedent” if approved.

After considering representations, Sunderland City Council’s planning department granted the planning application on April 1 with the reduced opening hours.

This includes 8am to midnight, seven days a week (including Bank Holidays), to help “safeguard the amenity of nearby occupiers.”

A note was also added to the council decision notice following police concerns about a rear customer entrance to the building.

It states: “Northumbria Police have stated that the rear entrance is somewhat uninviting and provides additional risk to customers at night.

“They advise that the applicant reviews the use of this door once they are operating and if the footfall does not add appreciably to the business model, consider taking it out of service and use it as a fire door only.”

According to planning documents, the adult gaming centre is expected to create up to 12 jobs.

In supporting documents submitted earlier this year, the applicant added the proposals would “protect and enhance the vitality and viability of this part of the city centre.”

A planning statement reads: “The proposal involves the bringing back of a long-term vacant unit into beneficial use, which will lead to improvements to the appearance and accessibility of the frontage, footfall, linked trips, new jobs and will assist in diversifying the centre’s offer.”

For more information on the development, visit Sunderland City Council’s planning portal and search reference: 21/00266/FUL