Gambling centre approved but no 24-hour opening

The old carphone warehouse shop in Huntingdon.

The old carphone warehouse shop in Huntingdon. - Credit: HUNTS POST

An adult gaming centre planned for Huntingdon town centre has been given the go-ahead but councillors cut back on its proposed opening hours from the 24 hours a day the operators had sought.

Milton Keynes-based Cashino Gaming Ltd was successful in its bid to change the use of the former Carphone Warehouse outlet in the High Street.

Huntingdonshire District Council’s Development Management Committee approved the move on Monday night (August 23), but councillors agreed to restrict opening times from 7am to midnight, rather than round-the-clock seven days a week opening that Cashino wanted.

Cllr Sam Wakeford told The Hunts Post: “Local residents will be bitterly disappointed by the approval. But it was obvious even those voting in favour felt they had little choice.”

The gaming centre, which features slot machines and electronic bingo, had been recommended for approval by council planners because it met planning regulations, despite “huge public opposition.”

Cllr Wakeford, who “called in” Cashino’s application for discussion, said they welcomed the decision to restrict opening hours and had not expected to gain any concessions in their opposition to the plan.

He said: “Responsibility for it lies with the Conservatives in government who have cut the legs out from under local democratic control of the planning system."

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Cllr Wakeford, Labour group leader on the council, said: “It is so counterproductive to force the hands of local councils to approve this sort of proposal despite overwhelming public opposition, when it is going to make our high street less attractive."

There were fears that an adult gaming centre would attract anti-social behaviour to the town centre, although police had not raised any objections.

Planners said the change of use met planning rules and that the proposed use would be better than having an empty shop on the High Street. 

In a report to the committee they said: “ “While strong objections have been raised to this is considered that on balance, the proposed change of use of premises to an adult gaming centre is acceptable, subject to the imposition of appropriate conditions.”
Betting machines at the centre would have stakes ranging from 10p to £2.