A former bookmaker’s retail shop in the coastal town of Whitby, Yorkshire, is set to be transformed into a new bingo venue.
William Hill have made an application to Scarborough Council for a change of use relating to the building in New Quay Road, Whitby. Previously a retail sports betting outlet, it was one of the hundreds of retail venues closed by the company back in 2019, in a move that it blamed on changes to the rules around Fixed Odds Betting terminals, resulting in a need to cut costs.
The betting operator now say that they are hoping to bring the building back into use and planning permission has been granted by borough council planning officers. The approval was granted even though more than a dozen objections were lodged with the council.
According to the application to the borough council, the premises will be open from 9am until 11pm and will operate seven days a week. The application states that the main use of the building would be as a bingo hall, but there would also be a small number of electronic bingo machines as well as a selection of slot machines.
Reports suggest that there are no external changes planned for building although the application mentions a separate application for new signs to the premises, though says that this will be submitted at a later date.
One of the objections to the plan that was submitted by a local resident urged the council to turn it down on the grounds that betting operations preyed on the vulnerable. Whitby Civic Society also raised an objection, saying that the council’s already stated Local Plan is supposed to confine amusement centres in the town to one specific area of Pier Road. They also claim that the policy prohibits the staging of sessional bingo, and argue that such a centre should be based in a closed environment, rather than the current plans, which is said were not appropriate to the area.
But in their approval for the plans, the planning officers for the Council said that they satisfied that the new use of the building would not be in contravention of the policy. They argued that the policy states that new amusement arcades can only be located in a specific part of the town, but that the new plan for the building does not constitute a gaming centre or amusement arcade.
The planning officers did make one concession, limiting the amount of floor area that could be set aside for slots games. They also said that the issue of whether the new use of the building would encourage more gambling were outside of their scope. It is not yet clear when the new bingo hall will be ready to open.