Town is odds-on to get casino
FELIXSTOWE is on the verge of having a new £3.2 million multi-entertainment complex – which will include a casino.Major changes are being proposed to the Palace Bingo and Cinema complex on Hamilton Road which will see the building transformed from a mere bingo and cinema outlet to include a 48 room hotel, with casino, restaurant and gymnasium.
By Georgina James
FELIXSTOWE is on the verge of having a new £3.2 million multi-entertainment complex – which will include a casino.
Major changes are being proposed to the Palace Bingo and Cinema complex on Hamilton Road which will see the building transformed from a mere bingo and cinema outlet to include a 48 room hotel, with casino, restaurant and gymnasium.
Bosses are hoping to totally modernise the premises, a prime town centre location, and turn it into something residents will be proud of.
Patrick Duffy managing director of Palatial Leisure Ltd, who own the building, said: "We are currently looking at all possibilities of developing the site including the possibility of a hotel and casino.
"The entire building needs refurbishment from wall to wall and hasn't seen any change since 1977.
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"We are looking at ways to improve facilities here and offer the residents of Felixstowe something different and a place they will proud of and enjoy using."
Planning application papers are due to be submitted to Suffolk Coastal Council next week, but the company has been in preliminary discussion with the council throughout the planning process.
Palatial Leisure Ltd, who have owned the building for four years, say they are happy to retain the bingo business but the long term viability of the two screen cinema is a cause for concern.
"The cinema only does well during the school holidays and we've had to look at alternative opportunities for the site.
"In our plans the bingo is still a big feature for us and we have been able to retain a one screen cinema, as we don't want to be the company which leaves Felixstowe without a cinema," said Mr Duffy.
The 48-roomed hotel will be budget priced and available on a room only basis, falling somewhere between a Travel Inn and a five-star hotel.
The casino will be situated on the ground floor next to the bingo hall.
The flat roofed extension to the right of the main doors will be demolished and will be replaced with an Irish theme bar and restaurant.
There will also be a fitness suite and an 80ft room with dual use as a cinema and conference room.
To accommodate these plans, the car park to the left of the building will be developed and built on.
Mr Duffy said: "We are going for a high quality unit.
"We don't want to be compared to Blackpool or Las Vagas. We are in a provincial town and that's not the sort of attraction we want to promote.
"We want to have a product that any town would be proud of."
The cost of the entire project has been estimated at £3.2 million and it is hoped that Felixstowe's economy will be boosted as a result.
"Felixstowe is Europe's busiest container port and this venture should help keep jobs and money in the town."
Palace Bingo and Cinema currently employs 16 people in Felixstowe but this number should soar to 70 if the proposals get the green light.
Mr Duffy added: "Our customers who are our bread and butter have been informed about the proposed changes.
"We are more than willing to listen to comments and recommendations from residents and we want to assure everyone that the venue will be upmarket and smart and in no way sleazy or garish."