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Nelson puts oar in over £35m casino

PUBLISHED: 15:06 30 October 2008 | UPDATED: 12:08 03 July 2010

CASINO AHOY: English Heritage are objecting to the casino plans because part of the complex is too near to the Grade I listed Nelson's Monument- 200m away.

CASINO AHOY: English Heritage are objecting to the casino plans because part of the complex is too near to the Grade I listed Nelson's Monument- 200m away.

Dominic Bareham

A DECISION on plans to build a £35m casino and leisure complex next to Great Yarmouth's Pleasure Beach has been delayed, after English Heritage officials raised concerns about the proximity of the development to Nelson's Monument.

CONCERNS: Charles Reynolds said the objection was 'totally irrelevant.'

A DECISION on plans to build a £35m casino and leisure complex next to Great Yarmouth's Pleasure Beach has been delayed, after English Heritage officials raised concerns about the proximity of the development to Nelson's Monument.

The final verdict on planning permission for Pleasure Beach boss Albert Jones' scheme will not now be known until after borough councillors have met English Heritage at the site on South Denes to discuss the objections, on November 27.

Councillor Charles Reynolds, chairman of development control committee, slammed the public body's concerns that the six-storey hotel planned for the complex would block views of the Grade 1 listed monument - it is over 200m away.

He said: “We need to get someone down there so English Heritage can quite frankly get their act in order. The distance between the monument and the hotel makes the objection totally irrelevant.”

At the meeting yesterday, councillors heard there were buildings in Trafalgar Square that were closer to its famous Nelson's Column than the casino would be to Nelson's Monument in Yarmouth.

Councillors also heard designers behind the famous water cube stadium used for swimming events at this year's Beijing Olympics have been involved with the South Denes project.

Nick Laister, a planning consultant for the complex, called The Edge, revealed a computer-controlled lighting scheme would be used to add colour to the complex walls, which can be changed at the click of a mouse button.

Mr Jones, who has teamed up with leading casino operator Aspers, had slightly amended the plans that were unveiled at the end of last year. A proposed four-star hotel, originally billed as 180 rooms, has been slightly downscaled to 138 rooms, to be built on six floors, instead of eight floors, above the casino.

The complex would include an eight-screen cinema, an 18-lane bowling alley, six restaurants and restaurant terraces, and four storeys of car parking for 832 vehicles.

The council's development control committee is being recommended to support the scheme - predicted to create about 1,000 jobs - in a report prepared by independent planning consultant Richard Wingate, especially commissioned to avoid any accusations of bias.

Ahead of yesterday's meeting Mr Jones said he felt planning approval would put him in pole position to clinch the town's prized large casino licence, one of eight to have been granted across the country under the new gambling legislation.

Despite speculation that other developers might be interested in building a casino complex on a council-owned Golden Mile site currently occupied by the Marina Centre, and rumours of interest in river bank sites as well, he described these possibilities as “pie in the sky” until formal plans were submitted.

He even raised the possibility that, given the credit crunch, his proposed development might be the only one to be taken forward, and if that turned out to be the case it would simplify and speed up the licensing process.

He pledged his firm was ready to put the plans in motion and, subject to planning and licensing hurdles, the complex could be open inside four years.

Support for the plans has come from urban regeneration company 1st East and the East of England Development Agency, while county highways has no objections subject to conditions being imposed over the impact of traffic.

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