Developer preparing to place its bet on site for large casino

Developer Terrace Hill is considering a bid for Middlesbrough’s large casino licence at its recently acquired site next to the town’s football ground after being approached by operators.

The property company agreed to buy the 16.5-acre site from Asda in December last year after the supermarket giant gave up on its bid to build a superstore on the site between Middlesbrough FC and the A66.

The site, which was owned by Asda for 10 years before it was put on the market last year, has consents for 63,000 sq ft of non-food retail development, offices and car showrooms.

Now the AIM-listed developer, which had been considering applying for a change of use to retail for the site, is now considering a casino after receiving approaches from several operators. Duncan McEwan, retail director at Terrace Hill, said: „It has been mentioned to us by a couple of people that we should be considering it as a good home [for Middlesbrough’s large casino].“

Middlesbrough, which had been in the running until last month for the UK‘s first super-casino, was one of eight locations awarded „large“ casinos.

These would be one-eighth the size of the so-called super-casino and house 150 slot machines with maximum jackpots of GBP 4,000, compared to 1,250 machines with unlimited jackpots in the larger establishment which will now be located in Manchester.

Mr McEwan said: „We will be carrying out investigations as to whether it is a suitable site in planning terms and operationally.

„We haven’t broached it with the council yet but it is a gateway site to Middlesbrough and we owe it to our shareholders to investigate whether or not this is the best use for the land.“ A bid would put it in direct competition with the neighbouring GBP 500m Middlehaven development situated immediately to the west of the football ground.

Tees Valley Regeneration last year selected Aspers as the preferred operator for a GBP 180m casino and leisure complex at Middlehaven should Middlesbrough have won the competition for the UK‘s first super-casino.

It is understood the urban regeneration company’s agreement with Aspers was for a super-casino only and the gambling operator will now look to team up with a developer of a town centre scheme.

TVR chief executive Joe Docherty said: „We feel that Middlehaven would make an excellent location [for a large casino]. But we realise that there will be other sites that will no doubt come forward now.“

Mr McEwan said the company would make a decision in the „next two or three weeks“ on whether or not it will push forward with a bid for Middles- brough’s sole large casino licence.