Suffolk casino gets planners backing

COMPLAINTS by more than 500 people are unlikely to be enough to save a fitness centre from being turned into a casino.Suffolk Coastal District Council planning officers are advising councillors on May 29 to approve plans for a redevelopment of the Regal, Sea Road, Felixstowe, for SMT Amusements Ltd.

COMPLAINTS by more than 500 people are unlikely to be enough to save a fitness centre from being turned into a casino.

Suffolk Coastal District Council planning officers are advising councillors on May 29 to approve plans for a redevelopment of the Regal, Sea Road, Felixstowe, for SMT Amusements Ltd.

The first floor is currently used for a fitness club run by Allison Swann with a membership of 800 people. The aim is to turn this into a casino with a bar and balcony and there will be alterations to the ground floor to extend the gaming machines and to provide a restaurant.

Council officers say that gyms and casinos are classified within the same use category under the Town and Country Planning Order 1998 and therefore planning permission is not required to change the first floor into a casino.


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But a petition of 360 signatures, 138 standard letters of objection and nine other letters of complaint have been received by the council. They state there is concern over the loss of the fitness suite, they claim there is no need for a casino and that it will not benefit local people, and they warn it could lead to extra noise, traffic and anti-social behaviour.

The West End of Felixstowe (South) Residents' Association says: ''The committee cannot help but compare the benefits to be derived by members of the community from the existing health and fitness centre with those of an intended casino. It would be a pity to close the former for the latter.

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''The committee is also concerned that should this application be granted there would be additional late night/early hours of the morning noise nuisance due to suggested working hours, including a 2am closure on Sunday mornings.''

Miss Swann has expressed her anger at the plan to set up a casino. She took on a four-year lease with the expectation of it being extended when it expires in September next year.

She has invested £80,000 in new equipment and she said she did not expect to start making a profit until the end of the lease when she has paid off the loan for the equipment.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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