Gloves off as planners do U-turn and approve gaming arcade

The site of the proposed gaming arcade in West Street.
The site of the proposed gaming arcade in West Street.

The gloves are off after the planners have approved – for the second time – the creation of a shop and gaming and amusement arcade in West Street.

The proposal, by Portadown publican Andrew Robinson, was passed in December, turned down two months later, and this week an amended plan received the planners’ approval.

But traders and politicians are again contesting the decision, with a meeting lined up for today (Friday), involving the shopkeepers, politicians and Mr Robinson who owns Robinson’s Bar at Loughgall Road and McConville’s at the Mandeville Street-West Street corner, just two doors away from the proposed gaming premises.

The approval of the original application was reversed on the grounds that it did not fit in with the character of what is mainly a retail area. And the main opponent of the plan, Councillor Darryn Causby, insisted that the revised plan was “not all that different” from the original.

He said, “I want to see Portadown town centre flourish and to see West Street continuing to trade well, but such a project would not be in keeping with the area.

“The Mandeville Street-West Street area has become a hive of activity at the weekends, which has brought significant problems to the area in relation to assaults. I feel that a gaming arcade would not help things in this respect.”

He added that West Street was improving trade-wise “and such a plan would certainly not aid that revival”.

Mr Robinson, though, said that the plan was to retain a retail front to the premises, offer it for rent, and site the arcade at the rear, “thus retaining the retail character and façade of West Street”.

He added that he planned to invest significantly in the project, create six new jobs, and that he was already paying rates for the premises.

“I am happy that the amended proposal has received approval - rightly, in my view – and I am confident the plan will go ahead. Portadown is crying out for investment.”

Portadown Times reader Molly Simpson has emailed – “This was rightly turned down before, so near a church and to retail premises.

“This town has far too many games rooms as it is. It’s time we tackled the problems of under-age drinking, violence that causes so many problems in our lovely town.”