Preston’s first casino in half a century is looking a safer bet now council officers have given it the thumbs up.
The city’s planning committee is expected to nod through an application next week to turn the former Fives building in Guildhall Street into a high class gambling venue.
Officers have recommended the scheme should get conditional approval after deciding there are no planning reasons to refuse it.
Now, assuming it gets the backing of the full council, the only stumbling block would be the city’s application to secure a casino licence under legislation currently going through Parliament.
The imposing Grade II Listed property, built in 1878 and once the grand home of the city’s Conservative Club, has been empty since the Fives nightspot closed in 2011. A Chinese restaurant, Face, on the lower ground floor will continue to run independently.
A team led by owner Edgar Wallace wants to convert it into a plush members only club, creating up to 140 jobs and helping to revitalise the city centre’s nightlife.
Mr Wallace said: “I’m in negotiations with a potential tenant who will run the building as an evening leisure and entertainment venue.
“We hope very soon to be able to bring this impressive and ornate building back into use.”
The deal will hinge on changes to the law governing casino licences. Preston does not currently have one, but the rules could change this year to make them “portable,” meaning the city might be able to use one from towns - like Lytham - which have them but have no plans to use them.
Back in the fifties Preston had two casinos - The Flamingo and the Club Royale - both in Great Shaw Street.