AN ADULT gaming centre is set to open in the Top of Town in Basingstoke after planning permission to change the use of the unit was granted by the borough council.

Admiral is set to take over the former William Hill betting shop in Winchester Street which closed in October 2019.

Its application to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council said: “In effect, the change of use would be from one gambling establishment to another.”

The company, part of Luxury Leisure, offers gaming on coin operated machines for adults aged over 18.

It describes itself as “the leading operator for amusement gaming within the UK”

Its application urged the council to “recognise the need for greater flexibility of uses on the high street” adding: “Covid-19 has accelerated change on the high street as a consequence of businesses reducing their store portfolios.”

It suggested that the addition of an adult gaming centre in the town will “contribute to the viability and vitality of the centre… by helping to add footfall and creating linked trips to other town centre retail and services that would not otherwise occur.”

The application added: “Leaving properties vacant for long periods is normally considered detrimental to the viability and vitality of a town centre.”

Referring to the “alleged risks” to problem gamblers, young people, and other vulnerable people, Admiral said this was a matter for “licensing and management functions, not planning”.

Admiral employs more than 2,000 staff in 234 adult gaming centres in the UK, which accounts for 22.5 per cent of the UK’s adult gaming centre market.

The gaming centre is set to provide 12 jobs.

Admiral said: “Local planning authorities need to reconsider how they apply protective town centre policies and greater support needs to be afforded to those sectors in which businesses, such as operated by the applicant, are continuing to invest in the high street.”