The owners of a new bingo hall, which will be opening in Farnborough this year, say the new facility should be ‘very welcome’ in the town centre.
An application submitted to Rushmoor Borough Council last year to turn a Pizza Hut restaurant, which has been vacant for more than three years, into a bingo hall has been approved by the council’s development control committee.
Despite a unanimous vote in favour of the application, Councillor John Marsh, representing the Fernhill ward, said he could think of better uses for the vacant unit.
He said: “All I can say about this application is the only good thing about it is that it brings an otherwise empty unit into use.
“We have to come up with very good reasons to reject an application, which I couldn’t, but at the end of the day it’s an application on the table. I would have preferred a normal shop, I think there should be a better site there.”
The new bingo hall, next to Iceland supermarket in Queensmead, is due to open early in the summer and will operate from 10am to 11pm every day.
One objection from a resident said: “This is just not what Queensmead should contain.
“Queensmead needs to become a hub for small independent shops and cafes that will draw people of all ages into the area.
“A gambling establishment is not good for the community and will downgrade the area considerably.
“It will lower the tone of the area and may encourage other such establishments in the future, putting off the kind of independent traders Farnborough needs.”
However, Kevin Scott, an agent for the owners of the bingo hall, said it will add to the mix of town centre uses and provide additional vitality.
He stated in the application that the new business will create opportunities to improve security in the town centre by installing additional surveillance while supporting the development of an evening economy and occupying a long-term vacant unit.
St Modwen, the developers carrying out the regeneration of Farnborough town centre, took on a lease with Gala Bingo in 2010, on the first floor of Queensmead, however the site has never opened for trade.
Simon Hannah, the applicant for the new bingo hall, said he believes it will be ‘very different from anything that players will have experienced in the past’ and Farnborough is the perfect location for it.
He said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to rejuvenate a property which has been empty for a number of years, and is fast becoming an eyesore in an area which has had a lot of money spent on improvements recently.
“There are many bingo players who currently travel from the local area, as far afield as Basingstoke and Bracknell, so a facility in the town should be very welcome.”