Government Inspector rules March amusement arcade can go ahead

OBJECTORS who persuaded Fenland planners to reject an amusement arcade in March lost their fight last night after a Government planning inspector ruled it can go ahead.

It means Peterborough-based Ace Electra can now go ahead with modernising part of Marcam House at 4-6 Station Road, putting up CCTV and using only the rear of one of the units for the arcade.

Richard High, the inspector who conducted the inquiry, said he believed the arcade in Station Road “would be likely to enhance rather than damage the vitality of the town centre”.

Town councillors had lobbied against the arcade, claiming it was “out of character with the surrounding area”. Residents of nearby Hansard Court petitioned against it claiming it would disrupt their lives.

Others claimed there would be problems with anti social behaviour and they told Fenland District Council the applicants had failed to show “there is any majority support from the public for what is nothing more than an all day and into the night gambling arcade”.

Mr High, however, has backed the views of planning officers who felt the scheme could go ahead but had been over ruled by the planning committee.

“Alcohol would not be available or permitted within the building and there is no reason to support that there would be anti social behaviour associated with use as an amusement centre,” said Mr High. “Moreover, the moral objections to this use are not material planning considerations.

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“As this would be a town centre use it would be unreasonable to require it to make its own parking provision and there are several car parks within easy walking distance.”

Mr High also stipulated that the arcade could only open from 10am-10pm Monday to Saturday and must close at 8pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Nigel Brown, the council’s development delivery manager, said: “Such hours of operation are commensurate with other non-shopping activities within the vicinity.”

Planners will shortly be able to determine another key application for the area following Wetherspoons’ decision to buy the former Hippodrome Bingo Club.

This week the company submitted its plans for its new pub and hope to get the go-ahead by the autumn.

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