Application for determination: -
Change of use from vacant bank (Use Class E) to an Adult Gaming Centre (Sui Generis).
The Senior Planner presented the report detailing an application for a change of use from vacant bank (Use Class E) to an Adult Gaming Centre (Sui Generis).
A Senior Planner for Pegasus Group, addressed the Committee in opposition to the application, on behalf of an objector.
He objected to the application on the following grounds:
- Principle of the change of use.
- Loss of Class E unit.
- A marketing assessment had not been conducted.
- There were already six adult gaming centres in the area. A further one would not increase the viability of the City Centre as stated in the report.
- The Noise Impact assessment had been too narrow.
- There would be a negative noise impact on the surrounding streets.
An Associate Director at Planning Potential Ltd addressed the Committee in favour of the application, on behalf of the applicant.
The Associate Director stated that the application should be granted on the following grounds:
- There had only been one objector.
- The concerns regarding litter were presided on the belief that there would be paper betting slips when there would not be.
- The Adult Gaming Centre would be highly regulated.
- The signage was considered to be acceptable.
- The Adult Gaming Centre would provide low stakes gambling and would never have betting terminals.
- No alcohol would be served on site.
- The applicant had significantly reduced the opening times, following consultation.
- There was no policy which stated that the applicant needed to undertake a marketing assessment.
- The unit had a long-established history of non-retail use.
The Senior Planner responded to members’ questions concerning the opening hours of the proposed Adult Gaming Centre, congregation, noise, the nature of the gambling that would take place at the Adult Gaming Centre, and the location of the proposed site as follows:
- There would be complimentary teas and Coffees served on site.
- The Adult Gaming Centre would have staff on site and would provide 6-7 new jobs.
- The initial application proposed being open for 24 hours a day. However, after a complaint was raised by an anonymous objector, this was reduced.
- The proposed opening hours were now 8am until midnight on Sunday to Thursdays and 8am to 1am Friday and Saturday.
- The machines on site would be low-stakes gambling machines.
- There was a gym in close proximity that was open for 24 hours, so the opening hours were typical for the area.
The Planning Development Manager responded to members’ questions regarding the change of use of the property as follows:
- Policy SD2 was only concerned with the loss of A1 retail properties. The site had not previously been used for retail purposes. Therefore, the granting of the application would not contradict Policy SD2.
- Gloucester City Council did not currently have a policy that would restrict the loss of a Class E unit.
- The Class E classification was introduced in September 2020. It amalgamated several different categories of property, including Class A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants and cafés) and B1 (business). It was introduced to provide greater flexibility.
- The proposed site would be Sui Generis.
Councillor Conder stated that she did not believe that the amended proposed opening hours were significantly lower than the previous application for 24 hours a day.
Councillor Tracey stated that she had concerns that the granting of the application would lead to smokers congregating outside of the Adult Gambling Centre. She also raised concerns about its proximity to a nearby public house.
Councillor Chambers said that he believed that there were too many Gambling premises active in the area. He said that there were 29 Gambling Licensing Premises in Gloucester. He stated that he believed that the granting of the application would contradict policy SD2. He said that he would not be supporting the application.
Councillor Melvin stated that she was uncomfortable with the location of the proposed site as it would be central in the City Centre. She stated that the unit had only stopped being used for its previous purpose in September 2020 and that there was nothing to suggest, that another business would not purchase it. She said that there would be a negative aesthetic impact on surrounding shops. She stated that all gambling premises in the area had an issue with people congregating outside and smoking and that granting the application would add to this. She also raised apprehensions about the proposed signage and stated that she would not be voting in line with the officer’s recommendations.
The Vice-Chair stated that he did not see a planning reason as to why it should not be granted but that he understood the concerns raised by other members.
Councillor Finnegan stated that she would be voting against the officer’s recommendation.
Councillor Chambers stated that from a planning perspective, the proposed site would be located near to St Michaels Tower which was a Grade II listed building. He pointed to the Conservations Officer’s comments listed in paragraph 6.24 and 6.25 of the report. He stated that the change of use would encourage anti-social behaviour and would have a negative impact on the Conservation Area. He noted that the impact on the nearby Grade II listed building and the concerns raised by the Conservation Officer regarding the negative impact on the Conservation Area were the planning reasons as to why he would not be supporting the officer’s recommendation.
Councillor Conder stated that she agreed with the comments made by Councillor Melvin.
Councillor Chambers moved, and Councillor Tracey seconded a motion to refuse the application based on the impact the proposed site would have on a Grade II listed building and the negative impact it would have on the Conservation Area, as noted by the Conservation Officer within the report.
RESOLVED that: - planning permission be refused owing to the detrimental impact the granting of the application would have on a Grade II listed building and the negative impact the granting of the application would have on the Conservation Area.