Casino plan for historic hotel

A HOTEL owner is planning to open a high-class casino at the site of a notorious aristocratic scandal that rocked society.MP Richard Spring yesterday met the owners of the luxury Swynford Paddocks Hotel, at Six Mile Bottom, near Newmarket – the house where Lord Byron conducted an affair with his own sister – to discuss the prospect of opening a casino.

A HOTEL owner is planning to open a high-class casino at the site of a notorious aristocratic scandal that rocked society.

MP Richard Spring yesterday met the owners of the luxury Swynford Paddocks Hotel, at Six Mile Bottom, near Newmarket – the house where Lord Byron conducted an affair with his own sister – to discuss the prospect of opening a casino.

Vincent Miller, financial director of the Newmarket-based Team Event Management, which owns the hotel, told the EADT he hopes to attract high-rollers visiting Newmarket for racing and horse sales, to the new facility.

He said the company had already bought Qualitair House, the mock Queen-Anne mansion which borders the hotel, as part of ambitious plans to turn Swynford Paddocks into a luxury country house leisure complex incorporating the hotel, a health spa, which will be built later this year, and a casino.


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He said: "We have investigated this thoroughly, in light of changes in legislation regarding casinos and we feel the building will meet with requirements proposed by the British Casinos Association.

"We are looking at the high end of the market, it will be a very upmarket affair, we already have a luxury hotel which attracts some very distinguished clientele and we want to be able to offer them the whole experience with a spa and casino."

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West Suffolk Conservative MP Mr Spring has given the idea his backing in principal and said: "There is a change in the law which will allow casinos to be set up, it's a very liberalising measure which will move away from the very strict rules governing gaming, whereby casinos have always operated like private clubs.

The change in the law looks like coming sooner rather than later and if there are going to be more casinos, particularly of this nature, I'd rather have them in East Anglia, where they are bringing money into the economy rather than losing out to London."

Mr Vincent said the company would be approaching casino operators with the necessary expertise to come in and run the facility within the next few weeks.

Last year, it emerged that a casino was one of the options being considered by Forest Heath District Council for the site of the soon-to-be-replaced Waitrose store, which the council has agreed to buy.

The idea met with considerable opposition from Newmarket residents who feared it would only add to the anti-social behaviour associated with the town's nightlife.

Mr Miller said he agreed that Newmarket High Street would not be a suitable venue for a casino, whereas the country location of Swynford Paddocks would attract a different clientele without the inherent adverse effect on the local community.

Forest Heath councillor Terry Waters has already been granted planning permission to build a casino at Mildenhall Stadium, and is waiting for the anticipated change in the law before going ahead with the scheme.

Mr Spring said the changes could be announced in the next Queen's speech and could come into effect within as little as nine months.

Swynford Paddocks became the subject of much rumour and gossip in the early 19th century when Lord Byron began an affair with his half-sister Augusta, who lived there with her husband Colonel Leigh, who looked after racehorses for the Prince of Wales.

Byron married someone else in an attempt to avert a scandal, but he remained a frequent visitor to Six Mile Bottom.

Augusta's daughter Elizabeth was thought to be the product of the incestuous relationship, and such behaviour eventually led to Byron's self-imposed exile.

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