Dove plan: councillors are 'not amused'

PUBLISHED: 17:16 16 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:41 17 June 2010

SAY NO to an adult amusement centre for Sidmouth, town councillors unanimously agreed on Wednesday. Speaking out against a scheme to turn The Dove pub into a centre for high stakes slot machine gambling, Councillor Tom Cox said: We will stick up for Si

SAY NO to an adult amusement centre for Sidmouth, town councillors unanimously agreed on Wednesday.

Speaking out against a scheme to turn The Dove pub into a centre for high stakes slot machine gambling, Councillor Tom Cox said: "We will stick up for Sidmouth and I think we should say no."

At the council's planning committee he read out Local Plan policy guidance to back his call against the proposal by Mr G Symonds as it would increase noise disturbance and pedestrian/vehicle movements and was an unacceptable activity close to houses, schools, hotels and conservation areas.

"It will affect the visual amenities of the town centre, even with tinted windows and locked doors," he said.

Policy SH6 of East Devon Local Plan states: "Amusement centres will not be permitted within primary shopping frontages if they would undermine the vitality and viability of the town centre.

"Amusement centres will not be permitted unless they are in locations where they would have no adverse effect on the character of the surroundings or on road safety or the amenity interest of neighbouring residents by reason of noise."

Mr Cox said the public smoking ban would force centre users into the narrow pavement in Dove Lane - close to a food outlet - to smoke.

Outdoor smoking meant noise, which had caused problems for hotel guests last summer.

While those using slot machines at the betting shop undertook a communal activity and socialised, "people in gambling centres go on their own. We are likely to have people of a different type going to this place."

Most of all it would undermine the vitality and viability of the town centre, he said.

"It would have a major affect on those things around it. It would affect the viability of those businesses close by."

Councillor Graham Liverton, who was absent, wrote: "Unfortunately, in my view, I see no planning reasons to refuse this application. However it is out of keeping with what Sidmouth is all about."

He suggested it should have strict operating times of 9am to 6pm if approved.

Councillor Jeffrey Turner, originally agreeing with Mr Liverton, changed his mind after hearing the policy statements, and, with other councillors, voted against supporting the plan.

Most believed it would change the character of the seaside town, renowned for its unique ambience, saying it was too close to the Esplanade.

"I have grave concerns about this. Are we going to open up the doors to something we will not have control over in the future?" asked Councillor Chris Wale.

Councillor John Hollick added: "Sid Vale Association was left a £1.5million bequest because Sidmouth is how England used to be and should be. We must stand up for a beautiful town unspoilt by progress.

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