Yarmouth’s Pleasure Beach boss Albert Jones is to lay down what he hopes will be a winning hand in the battle to bring gaming on a Las Vegas scale to the resort.
Residents will be given their first real glimpse of his bold plans for a GBP 35m casino and leisure complex, creating about 1,000 jobs, at a public exhibition in the town next week.
The centre, to be called The Edge, would revitalise a strip of wasteland on South Denes between the Pleasure Beach and the outer harbour site.
Details of the plans, and how they include a 180-room hotel, as well as a 10-screen cinema, a 22-lane bowling alley, and a combination of restaurants and bars, are being revealed for the first time.
Mr Jones has decided to show his cards at a time when borough council chiefs are becoming increasingly confident that the government is poised to finally give the go-ahead to eight large casinos including Yarmouth’s.
He is expected to face hot competition for the large casino licence from developers planning multi-million pound schemes for other sites in the resort, including a large strip of council-owned land on the Golden Mile, running from – but not including – Pirate’s Cove crazy golf course in the north to the Sealife Gardens in the south.
Council regeneration manager Tim Howard said they were currently showing other prospective developers around the town – including three last week – and they had already had some very interesting discussions.
He said: “I am confident Yarmouth is going to be a very attractive venue and the people we are talking to are right at the top of the tree.”
Mr Howard said one developer had already intimated that the Golden Mile site would not be large enough for the scale of casino and leisure complex they were planning.
It is understood that other town centre, seafront – and possibly riverfront – locations are likely to enter the reckoning.
A special casino advisory panel – representing a cross-section of interests in the town – will guide the council in the complex decision-making process on choosing a site.
Mr Jones, who has already invested GBP 700,000 in preparing the best possible concept for his proposal, last night described it as a “spectacular and exciting project that will create a high-quality new leisure destination in Yarmouth”.
“It will be not only a year-round attraction for visitors but a great asset and entertainment centre for people living here,” he said.
“The complex will form a new gateway to the Golden Mile and be a massive boost to our tourist industry. It shows our family’s continued commitment to the town and determination to continually invest in its future.”
Mr Jones, who already has outline planning consent for a leisure complex on the one-time South Denes caravan park, has entered into partnership with leading casino operator Aspers, whose casino would create 450 of the 1,000 jobs.
“We are creating a centre with a real mixture of attractions which will appeal to a wide range of people from all over the area and really enhance business in the town,” said Mr Jones. “And we plan to use a blend of materials for the complex which are sympathetic to the area and its natural assets like the beach.”
He said the exhibition would offer a chance to see the plans, ask questions of the development consortium, and give opinions.
It will be staged at the Priory Centre, Priory Plain, from midday to 8pm on Thursday next week and 10am to 8pm the following day.