March music shop will become adult gaming centre
Plans to convert a music shop into an an adult gaming centre have been given the thumbs up by planning officers despite concerns raised by local police.
Dominic Seims has been given permission to convert what is currently WMS Music at 4a Dartford Road in March into an adult gaming centre even though there have been 24 reported crimes in the area in the past two years and the police's designing out crime team said they needed more information before they could fully comment.
The reported crimes include eight assaults, criminal damage, drugs and public order offences.
The team also wanted to see paperwork and documentation in relation to management practices to help deal with issues such as responsible gambling and money laundering.
They pointed out: "In addition this proposed premises will be opposite a public house, I would like to know how the applicant will deal with the potential of drunk persons trying to enter his establishment in order to gamble and also what policy he will have to prevent underage admission."
However, a planning officer's report said: "Whilst comments from the designing out crime team are noted, these relate more to operational procedures and policies with regard to the proposed use of the premises as an adult gaming centre, and are dealt with under legislation separate to planning law. As such, the refusal of the scheme on the basis of these comments would be unjustified in this case.
"However, the safe use of the site as an adult gaming centre positioned within the town centre, close to a public house should be considered and it is recommended that the applicant consult with the designing out crime team to ensure community safety with regard to the scheme."
March Town Council in their consultation recommended the application for approval.
A design and access statement drawn up in support of the application by Peter Humphrey Associates explained: "The current retail unit has operated as a music store for a number of years by the applicant’s father; selling musical instruments and offering repairs.
"The applicant’s father is retiring, and the applicant wishes to utilise this space as an adult gaming centre, something which he has experience in and believes will work well in this location."
It explains the shop will have both modern and retro gaming machines to broaden the appeal.
Mr Seims, says the statement, will initially be the sole employee, although there is an intention to hire an additional person in the future. The aim is to open the centre from 10am to 10pm daily.
The officer's report concluded: "The proposal is considered acceptable and accords with the necessary policies of the Fenland Local Plan. There are no issues to address regarding amenity impacts or highway safety.
"The proposal presents an opportunity for an existing commercial premises to be retained within March town centre and has a neutral impact on the March Conservation Area, subject to approval of any subsequent advertisement consent for intended signage. Given the above, a favourable response is forthcoming."
Planning permission was formally granted this week.