Plans for a gambling arcade on a premium street in Sheffield have been blocked, with one councillor calling it a “small but important step” to prevent its decline.
Central Ward members successfully spoke out against the Fargate proposal at a licensing hearing, stating gambling caused harm "anywhere."
The decision is a blow to Royal Amusements of Bradford which was granted planning permission in August for an arcade at number 9, next to Caffe Nero. It was set to offer slot machines and £500 jackpot prizes and stay open until 12.30am.
Coun Douglas Johnson told The Star it would have been a “step backwards” for Fargate, which is having a multi-million pound revamp and shifting away from shops. A third of units are empty or closing soon.
He said: “Fargate is in transition, gambling would be a step backwards. It used to be a prime retail street but those days have gone, as they have in other towns, and it is moving towards a more creative and playful use with better public realm and more hospitality and leisure - a place where people spend time and don’t just shop.
"But it’s not there yet. We want carefully chosen businesses that will enhance the place. This is a small but important step in preserving our options for a better future.”
Gambling caused “harm anywhere” and would cause anti-social behaviour in an area already well know to the police and home to thousands of people, he added.
Royal Amusements had said it would offer ‘bingo, reels and video-based slots’, in ‘air conditioned and inviting’ sites ‘manned by a professional staff’. And it would improve the ‘vitality and viability’ of Fargate and create jobs.
Director of public health Greg Fell, the police and ChangingSheff, the association for 27,000 city centre residents, also opposed the plan.
In August, planning officer Jacob George said there was ‘no national or local planning policy basis for the control of gambling premises’ and no justification for refusal based on health impacts.
He wrote: "At the present time it is not possible to tackle the social problems associated with gambling through the planning system. This is a matter for wider public health strategies."