A DECISION by Chester City Council to refuse permission for the ‘Marks & Spencer’ of Britain’s amusement arcades to come to the city centre is to be probed by an inspector.
The change of use to an adult gaming centre was proposed at vacant shop premises at 67-69 Foregate Street and 1-3 Queen Street owned by ING.
Privately-owned Loughborough-based Thomas Estates, whose premises trade as Showboat, told the city council that it would totally renovate the property.
A sophisticated atmosphere would be created with both machines and a bingo lounge offering top prizes of up to £25.
Mature customers would already be shopping in the area, most would be female and typically more than 30% would be over 50.
There would be an absolute ban on under-18s and no facilities would be provided for them.
The family-owned company, which has been in the leisure industry for six generations, is seen as the ‘Marks & Spencer’ of the business, according to the planning application.
It operates centres throughout the country and has an outlet at Heathrow Airport.
Opening hours would be 9am-10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-6pm on Sunday.
The bingo lounge would operate throughout the day and customers could pop in for a few games at a cost of 10p to 50p.
The frontage would be maintained as a shop window.
No objections were raised by the city’s environmental protection officers but Leeds-based town planning and development consultants Richard Raper Planning objected on behalf of Real Leisure at 72-74 Foregate Street and Ladbrokes at no 71.
It was argued approval would be contrary to the council’s planning policies and the unit had been vacant for only a few months.
Planning officers at the city council believed it was “important” to take account of the loss of a shop because it would affect the retail nature of that part of Foregate Street.
The public inquiry into the application will be heard at Chester Town Hall on Tuesday, starting at 10am.