Plans approved for late-night adult gaming arcade in Sunderland creating up to 12 jobs

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

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 6:25 pm
251 High Street West, Sunderland Picture: Google.

Earlier in May, plans were lodged with Sunderland City Council to change the use of a vacant retail unit at 251 High Street West next to McDonald’s.

The application came from Merkur Slots UK (Ltd) which recently won permission to open a similar development at Holmeside.

According to a planning statement from the applicant, the facility will create between six and 12 full time jobs and ‘will clearly complement the surrounding shops and other commercial premises along this part of High Street West’.

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Applicants have said that adult gaming centres provide a place for people to “spend their spare change, have a game of bingo and enjoy their favourite pastime.”

In addition the centres do not offer fixed odds betting terminals associated with betting shops and instead, provide a range of low stakes machines.

New plans for the High Street West unit included a bid to open an adult gaming centre on the ground floor, alongside alterations to the building.

Applicants said that adult gaming centres typically operate on a 24-hour basis and that the customer base after midnight is primarily the ‘local entertainment workforce’ and shift workers.

Following consultation, Sunderland City Council’s planning department approved the application, but reduced the opening hours applied for.

As a result, the business is only allowed to open between 8am and midnight on “any given day”.

The amended opening hours were requested by Northumbria Police, which objected to the proposed 24-hour use while noting the high number of “gambling venues” in the city centre and deprivation levels.

A report from planners addressing the comments from police said: “The concerns of Northumbria Police are noted in relation to the number of gambling venues within the vicinity, and deprivation levels.

“However, there are no planning policies that seek to restrict the number of gaming venues within a certain area due to deprivation or any other reason.

“The applicant has agreed to amend the opening hours of the business to those as suggested by Northumbria Police, which would be in line with other commercial operations within the city centre of Sunderland, including this part of High Street West.”

A planning statement from the applicant, submitted earlier this year, claimed the adult gaming centre at High Street West would benefit Sunderland city centre.

This included bringing a vacant unit back into use, increasing footfall and creating new jobs.

The statement reads: “The introduction of the proposed adult gaming centre use will also result in additional benefits, including the redecoration of the existing tired frontage, increased footfall, contributing to linked trips and the creation of 6-12 new full-time jobs.

“In this respect, the new use will clearly complement the surrounding shops and other commercial premises along this part of High Street West, whilst diversifying the offer.”

Under planning conditions, the work to convert the building must start on site within the next three years.

For more information on the planning application visit online-applications.sunderland.gov.uk/online-applications and search planning reference: 21/01093/FUL