Pleasure Beach boss given more time to build Great Yarmouth £35m seafront casino
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012
Great Yarmouth's proposed £35m seafront casino complex, The Edge, has had its licence extended by four years to 2017.
The scheme will see a large casino, hotel, restaurants, multi-screen cinema and 600-space car park built in South Beach Parade.
But Pleasure Beach owner Albert Jones faced paying £55,000 per year to maintain a gambling licence for an unbuilt casino, under original terms.
The situation arose as borough councillors - who granted Mr Jones a provisional licence in April 2012 - ruled he must apply for a costly operating licence from the Gambling Commission within a year.
But licensing councillors agreed to give him an extension until April 2017, provided his company Pleasure and Leisure can meet annual performance targets - showing building work is on track.
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Mr Jones estimates around 300 full and part-time jobs, including a number of apprenticeships, will be created when The Edge is completed.
And licensing bosses said they are confident the new arrangement will help secure what is 'right for the town'.
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Mr Jones said: 'If all goes to plan we should be on site at some point next year.
'As a company it's about getting the timing right - we don't want to empty the Pleasure Beach site and have the contracts fall by the wayside.
'In this economic climate it's been very frustrating and it's got to be right for the Pleasure Beach.
'As a company we don't want to open something we wished we waited two years to get right.
'We could open it and get tenants in tomorrow, but it's wouldn't be what we want long term.'
The licence extension was granted at a private licensing committee meeting at the town hall on July 15, and the decision was unanimous.
Mr Jones said he was pleased as maintaining a licence for a yet-to-be-built casino would be 'like throwing money away'.
Licensing committee chairman John Holmes added that extending the gambling licence deadline to match the four-year building plan made sense as they 'didn't quite marry up' before.
'From what I understand, they need that time to do the preparation work,' he reasoned. 'We hope it all comes to fruition, but we were right to give Albert the time to put together the package.
'What we said initially was it seemed under the legislation we had to do it within a certain time.
'It's all there and Albert's certainly comfortable with that.
'It's just getting what's right for him as the owner of the land and what's right for the town.'
Linda Mockford, licensing manager at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said the extension is subject to conditions under schedule nine of the Gambling Act 2005.
These are annual performance obligations, in terms of building work and contracts secured.
The borough council's provisional licence will become a full premises licence once the casino is built and holds a Gambling Commission operating licence.
'He wanted the reassurance that we weren't going to take his licence away so we granted it for the four years to coincide with his build programme,' added Mrs Mockford.
She added the issues had arisen as it is a new-build project.
The final line-up of restaurants at the complex is still being decided, with discussions including The Restaurant Group - which operates Nando's and Frankie and Benny's. The Odeon is set to be the anchor tenant for the development.
Mr Jones won the licence after a five-year battle against the other main contender Patrick Duffy, who owns the Palace Casino in Church Plain.
The borough council is already investigating a permit parking scheme for the Barrack Estate to help manage the extra traffic created by the casino.