Odds favour a new casino

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PLANS to turn the former National Union of Mineworkers headquarters next to Barkers Pool in Sheffield city centre into a 24-hour casino are set for approval next week.

Some concerns have been raised about the impact on people living nearby but councillors will be recommended to give the go-ahead on Monday.

One of the conditions is expected to be that a proposed rooftop bar closes at 12.30am and ground-floor restaurants at 1am, in line with surrounding bars and pubs.

No major problems are expected with the casino itself. “Casinos are usually very well managed and the dispersal of customers tends to be more widely spread, resulting in less noise and disturbance,” says a council report.

The £8m scheme is backed by Barnsley-based Brook Leisure, which already runs Embrace nightclub, in the red-framed building at the other side of Barkers Pool, and Crystal bar in Carver Street, adjoining the former NUM HQ.

The company says it is hard to believe that the UK’s fourth largest city does not have a city centre casino and estimates that the proposed redevelopment will generate 130 jobs.

Five objections have been lodged with the council, although one from local Green councillor Robert Murphy raises concerns on behalf of local residents who say they already suffer from late-night noise and anti-social behaviour from customers of bars and taxis.

Coun Murphy questions whether this is the right location for a 24-hour casino but suggests that opening hours are restricted in line with other licensed premises if council approval is granted.

The NUM offices were built in the 1980s when union president Arthur Scargill moved the headquarters from London, although they were never occupied.

Council officers are welcoming the prospect of the building being used again after standing empty since 1988. At one time, there were plans for wholesale demolition to make way for offices.

Designs for the proposed casino have been amended since their submission and council officers believe they now fit in better with the appearance of the building and the City Hall conservation area.

Since Brook Leisure submitted its scheme last June, Birmingham-based Genting Casinos, the largest operator in the UK, has indicated it is preparing to move into a vacant unit under the Q-Park ‘cheesegrater’ car park at the corner of Arundel Gate and Charles Street, also in the city centre.

The proposed venture includes bars and restaurants.