omast Developments has been awarded Middlesbrough’s large casino licence by Middlesbrough Council’s licensing committee. That is the catalyst for the development now proposed which will transform the empty Gurney House office block and also see new building on adjoining car-parks.
The project would include: A luxury hotel, budget hotel, banqueting facilities, casino and restaurants; a multi-storey car park, and the creation of around 300 jobs. The large casino licence awarded to Jomast is one of only eight in the UK - and the only one north of Leeds.
Jomast’s development director Adam Hearld said: “We are delighted to have won the casino competition and this will enable us to revitalise this important town centre site.
“Our vision is to create a major new, casino-based, leisure and entertainment destination that will have far reaching benefits for Middlesbrough”.
Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s executive councillor for regeneration, said: “The council’s licensing committee resolved to grant Gurney Casino Ltd a Provisional Statement which it can apply to convert into a large casino licence in due course.
“The potential for a scheme like this for the town on the back of the casino licence is obviously very exciting and bringing Gurney House back into use after so many years of being empty would be a real achievement.”
Councillor Bernie Taylor, chairman of the council’s casino licensing sub-committee said: “The council has always been concerned to balance any potential negative impact of the casino with the regeneration benefits to the town.
“Awarding the Provisional Statement means a casino operator who will work to the highest protection standards can now be sought.”
Jomast will now begin a marketing campaign aimed at securing a casino operator although some parties have already expressed interest.
A planning application for the scheme is being prepared and an extensive public consultation exercise will be undertaken before the planning application is submitted.
Jomast hopes to commence the first phase of the scheme early next year.
Concern has been voiced in the past about a casino development going ahead in central Middlesbrough.
The Right Reverend Martin Warner, Bishop of Whitby, said he had concerns about the potential impacts on the community. He said: “Who really benefits from this? Is it the local people or do the profits go elsewhere out of our community? Who does it damage and is this likely, at a time when people are without jobs because money is scarce, to tempt people into destructive habits which will simply bring further misery?”