Arcade scheme 'a benefit to town'

A PROPOSED amusement arcade in Huntingdon town centre would bring life to the Market Square , a planning inquiry was told. Last year, Huntingdonshire District Council turned down an application by Carey Leisure to turn the old Barclays Bank at 6 Market H

A PROPOSED amusement arcade in Huntingdon town centre "would bring life to the Market Square", a planning inquiry was told.

Last year, Huntingdonshire District Council turned down an application by Carey Leisure to turn the old Barclays Bank at 6 Market Hill into an amusement arcade.

At a day-long hearing in Huntingdon on Tuesday, Carey Leisure told a planning inspector that the rejection was unlawful. HDC claims an arcade would not be in keeping with the character of the area.

Andrew Campbell, representing Carey Leisure, said: "This is nothing to do with character; it is to do with prejudice. This will bring life to the Market Square."


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But representatives from HDC, the town council, Huntingdon and Godmanchester Civic Society, All Saints' Church and local businesses said the arcade was not wanted.

Representing HDC, Teresa Jackson said: "Planning is not an exact science and is a subjective issue. This site is extremely sensitive with a number of historic buildings nearby and is in a conservation area."

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The proposal would not see the frontage of the building altered. There would be some retail use associated with the arcade, which would be for over-18s only.

Huntingdon town councillor Brian Luckham expressed concern that the proposed siting of the arcade would disrespect the nearby war memorial and said town council surveys found the public heavily against the proposal.

John Nunn, owner of nearby shop The Card Gallery, said: "We want to make the Market Square come alive with cafes and restaurants, similar to what has happened in Peterborough and an amusement arcade would not fit in with those criteria."

Dr Angela Owen-Smith, from the Civic Society, said: "It is not the principle that is wrong, but the place."

However, Mr Campbell said: "There has been a substantial change in the amusement arcade business in recent years.

"We are talking about silent, electronic machines, not raucous, noisy machines like in seaside towns of 20 years ago."

Carey Leisure already operates an amusement arcade in South Street, St Neots.

Planning inspector Anthony Davison visited both the Market Square and the arcade in St Neots and will now consider the case. A decision is expected within six weeks.

INFORMATION: Should Carey Leisure be allowed to open an amusement arcade in Market Hill? E-mail your views to editor@huntspost.co.uk or write to 30 High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TB.

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