Casino bid for rink site refused

An application for a second major casino in Bournemouth was refused yesterday – and a major nightclub may now be built on the site instead.

Developers wanted to convert the former ice rink in Westover Road into the Majestic Casino but were turned down by Bournemouth Magistrates.

The building’s owner, Luminar Leisure, may now turn to its plan B, the Oceana nightclub.

It already has a licence for the venue for 2,200 revellers and said in the casino hearings it was the company’s alternative scheme.

Director Bernard MacLoughlin from developer Waterimage Ltd said after the hearing: „We are very disappointed. I think we need to go away and think about it.“

The plan was for an GBP 8.5 million continental-style casino with fine dining and cabaret.

The developer thought it was an all-in-one high-class venue that would tap into a different market to the casino planned for the regeneration of the Pavilion area.

But the magistrates disagreed. They said there was not enough market research, feared casino saturation, and pointed out the existing Gala and Stanley Casinos are normally not even 50 per cent full.

A Luminar Leisure spokesman said afterwards: „Although we respect the decision, we are bitterly disappointed. We feel the product was unique and different and we feel it’s a shame we can’t bring it to Bournemouth.“

Gordon Irving from the Westover Road business association, which wanted to make good use of the derelict ice rink, said: „It’s a shame. Nothing more to say really.“

Cllr Stephen MacLoughlin, leader of Bournemouth council, said he was pleased the magistrates had agreed with the council’s objection. The council backs the Pavilion scheme.

„We’re pleased that the justices have listened to our strong case and to the arguments put forward by Gala and Stanley casinos,“ he said.

„It is a great shame that the ice rink site has remained unused for so long and we hope that more appropriate plans will be submitted.“

The Pavilion development will cost GBP 66-70m and will include an Aspers casino. Developer Trevor Osborne said: „I’m delighted the Pavilion Gardens project can stand alone as a project of distinction and not as one of numerous casinos on Westover Road.

„I want to maintain Bournemouth as a quality attraction and have no desire for it to become the equivalent to Las Vegas.“