Adult gaming centre relocation approved to allow for bigger premises in The Galleries
Plans for an adult gaming centre to relocate to larger premises at a Washington shopping hub have been given the green light by city development chiefs.
In recent months, Sunderland City Council’s planning department received an application for ground floor units at The Galleries shopping centre.
The space was previously occupied by a Sunderland AFC retail store and according to planning documents, is part vacant and part trading as a charity shop.
New plans from Luxury Leisure aimed to transform the unit into an adult gaming centre (AGC), allowing business Admiral Casino to relocate from its existing unit in The Galleries.
Applicants said the new location at The Galleries would allow Admiral Casino to provide a “much improved service to a loyal customer base”.
A supporting statement submitted to local authority officials, on behalf of the applicant, said the AGC is long-established and has traded from the shopping centre since 1997.
The supporting statement added that “unlike an ‘arcade’ which is noisy to attract passing custom of all ages, there is a statutory obligation to exclude under 18s from AGCs”.
Those behind the scheme also claimed the plans would cause “no harm to retail vitality, viability or diversity” and would create jobs “at a time when town centres are in decline”.
During consultation on the planning application, councillor Dianne Snowdon raised concerns about the AGC.
The councillor, who represents the Washington Central ward, said she believed there was a “policy in place that does not allow this type of development on the ground floor of Washington Galleries”.
Cllr Snowdon’s consultation statement added: “We already have a number of licensed betting premises in The Galleries with gaming machines, so there is no need for this development”.
After considering the planning application and assessing it against planning policies, Sunderland City Council’s planning department approved it on March 1, 2023.
Council planning officers, in a decision report, responded to Cllr Snowdon and said there was no policy reason to “warrant refusal of the application”.
The council decision report adds: “The proposal involves the relocation of the existing premises to a different unit within The Galleries.
“The existing business is located within unit 1A, which is on the first floor of the centre (which is a secondary frontage), whereas the proposed new unit at 2A is located on the ground floor of the centre and therefore falls within the primary frontage.
“Using the most up to date 2022 retail survey data, it is acknowledged that the proposed change of use would not result in the non-A1 uses (retail and shops) within the primary frontage being over the 25% threshold and would be acceptable in this instance”.
The planning decision report also confirmed opening hours for the relocated adult gaming centre and clarified customers would use the “front entrance only”.
Opening hours include 9am-6pm, Monday to Saturday and 11am-4pm on Sundays.
Applicants have previously stressed there would be no increase in the number of “licensed gaming premises” in the shopping centre and that the proposed use would be “strictly governed and regulated under the council’s licensing regime”.
According to the submitted planning application for the relocation, 12 full-time equivalent employees are proposed as part of the development.
For more information on the planning application, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 22/02780/FUL