Has casino scheme hit jackpot?

ENTERTAINMENT centre owners should know soon whether they will hit the jackpot and be allowed to open a £3.2 million casino in Felixstowe.Details of the project have been with planners for four months now – and it is hoped a decision will be made in the next two months.

By Richard Cornwell

ENTERTAINMENT centre owners should know soon whether they will hit the jackpot and be allowed to open a £3.2 million casino in Felixstowe.

Details of the project have been with planners for four months now – and it is hoped a decision will be made in the next two months.

There had been fears that the scheme, which has already prompted a large number of objections, might be axed and the company behind it opt to develop one of its other sites instead.

But Suffolk Coastal council said the application had not been withdrawn.

It had not come before councillors yet because there were detailed negotiations taking place between the applicant and the council over design and other issues.

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It could come before the development control sub committee later this month or next, though councillors would almost certainly want to visit the site before making a final decision.

Palatial Leisure wants to transform the cinema and bingo complex in Crescent Road into a three-storey "mini resort" featuring a single-screen cinema, conference centre, bingo hall and casino, restaurant, gym and 57-bed hotel.

It will be a massive development, including demolition and replacement of a single-storey side extension, and a huge extension on the current car park.

Felixstowe councillors are not against the scheme but they have slammed the plans – submitted last September – for not including parking and for the "monolithic" design.

It is feared the building – which will be treble its present size and create 53 new jobs – will appear as a huge slab and tower over neighbouring homes.

There was also concern about the proposed opening hours until 4am.

Although there will be no parking provided for the centre, there is a public car park opposite the site. While it is well-used during the day by shoppers, it is not used at night.

The casino plan has attracted protests from many residents, church and community leaders, worried about the young people being drawn into addiction.

Palatial Leisure's managing director Patrick Duffy though has denied that the complex would entice youngsters into gambling. No-one under 18 would be allowed inside. Its clientele would be the very opposite to what many people seem to envisage.

He said it would be "members only" and the company has strict rules on standards of behaviour and which forbid bad language. It would make the town safer because it would bring people and activity and provide an economic boost.

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