Gambling venue can open after council decision overturned

Gambling venue can open after council decision overturned

A gambling venue will be allowed to open after a government official overruled Barnet Council’s decision to refuse planning permission.

Cashino Gaming has been given the go-ahead to open a Merkur Slots adult gaming centre in a former bank at 48 Ballards Lane, Finchley.

Planning officers at the council turned down the scheme in September last year, saying in a report it would “detract from the retail function of this part of the town centre and have a detrimental impact on the vitality and viability of the shopping parade”.

The report added that the proposal would create an “over-concentration of gambling/betting shop-type premises within the main shopping area of the town centre”. There are already five betting shops in Ballards Lane close to the site.

Barnet Council received more than 600 objections to the venue from members of the public, many of whom feared it would bring crime, noise and anti-social behaviour to the area.

But an appeal against the decision was upheld by a government planning inspector in a decision published at the end of February.

The inspector wrote in a report: “I consider that there would be no adverse effects resulting from the proposal that would significantly or demonstrably outweigh the benefits associated with the scheme.”

The inspector’s report said there would be a “neutral effect” on the number of retail premises in the high street, and there would not be a “harmful cumulative effect” when added to the existing betting shops.

However, the venue will not be allowed to run for 24 hours a day, after the inspector ruled it would be “highly likely to have a harmful effect on the amenity currently afforded by neighbouring residents”.

It means the Merker Slots venue will be allowed to open from 7am until midnight.

Cashino claims to have “an emphasis on low-stake slot gaming with pay-outs that range from £5 to £500” and says it does not provide fixed-odds betting terminals.

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