New casino plans unveiled

WORRIED residents may be invited to a public meeting to hear details of the £3.2 million project to create a major entertainments complex in Felixstowe.

WORRIED residents may be invited to a public meeting to hear details of the £3.2 million project to create a major entertainments complex in Felixstowe.

Last time the scheme – which will include a casino – was submitted to planners it attracted more than 200 protests from town centre families, church and youth leaders, and other organisations.

But this time owners of the Palace bingo hall and cinema at the junction of Crescent and Cobbold Roads are hoping the venture will be seen as acceptable.

They have not mentioned a casino because it will not be included in the initial phases of the development, doesn't need planning consent, and the government has yet to decide which casino games a bingo hall could run under deregulation.

The plans show a 52-bedroom hotel, health and fitness club, bars, restaurant, and bingo/entertainments complex. They are keen to keep a single-screen cinema, which could be adapted for conference use.

Managing director of Palatial Leisure, Patrick Duffy said if there were concerns this time, he would organise a meeting to explain the plans.

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"I was shocked at the amount of objections there were to the previous plans because I had not expected there to be any – I honestly believed people would have welcomed such an investment in the town," he said.

"I know the word casino caused anxiety which was totally unnecessary – if we run a casino it will be for members only and aimed at mature adults.

"But what hurt most was that people did not come to speak to me or my staff about the plans. If they had worries or concerns we would have been pleased to have talked to them and explain what we wanted to do and why.

"We do not want to upset or offend anyone. I would hope this time that if anyone has a problem or any anxiety they would come and see us."

Palatial Leisure has been investing in similar facilities in Gorleston and Great Yarmouth and Mr Duffy has already indicated that if the Felixstowe plans do not go through, he will take the investment elsewhere.

He believes the hotel and its extra facilities, along with the hoped-for casino games, will provide an enormous boost to the resort, helping the economy of the town centre and providing another attraction.

Contrary to residents' concerns about noise and disturbance, he feels CCTV and a hotel with night-time duty staff will boost town centre security. Guests would not cause noise as this would harm the hotel business.

The premises would also not open until 4am as suggested previously as the clientele would not require such late opening.

Planners recommended the previous project should be rejected because it would have a major impact on the life of families living in the town centre, and they were also unhappy with the overbearing design.

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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