Plans lodged for another adult gaming arcade in Sunderland City Centre weeks after previous application approved

Proposals for another adult gaming arcade in Sunderland city centre have been lodged with council planners.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 10:43 am

Earlier in May, plans were submitted to the city council to change of use of a vacant retail unit at 251 High Street West next to McDonald’s.

The application from Merkur Slots UK (Ltd) comes after a recent application for a late-night adult gaming centre off Holmeside, which was approved in April.

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.”

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251 High Street West, Sunderland Picture: Google.

The centres do not offer fixed odds betting terminals associated with betting shops and instead, provide a range of low stakes slot machines and bingo.

Applicants define low stakes as between 10p and £2 and say the average stake from customers is 30-40p.

New plans for the High Street West unit include a bid to open a 24-hour adult gaming centre from the ground floor, alongside alterations to the building.

This includes a new entrance door on the western elevation to allow access to the upper floors and two new openings on the southern elevation to allow for an emergency fire door and access to a bin store.

According to planning documents, the unit has not been occupied on a permanent basis since 2012 with the last business use lasting for around two months in early 2019.

A planning statement from the applicant claims that the adult gaming centre at High Street West would benefit the area and create jobs.

It reads: “The proposed adult gaming centre will bring a long-standing vacant unit which has not been contributing to the local economy back into use and return activity to the frontage which is a significant benefit to the city centre.

“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.”

Applicants say 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.

Although the recent application for a Merkur Slots adult gaming centre at Holmeside applied for 24-hour opening hours, this was reduced to 8am-midnight following a request from Northumbria Police.

The opening hours for the new proposed adult gaming centre off High Street West will need to be considered by council planners separately.

A planning statement from the applicant adds: “The proposed 24-hour opening is considered to be acceptable and will not give rise to any undue noise and disturbance to city centre residents nor adjoining commercial uses.”

A decision on the change of use is expected by early July, 2021.

For more information on the planning application or to track its progress, visit online-applications.sunderland.gov.uk/online-applications and search planning reference: 21/01093/FUL

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