A PROPOSED town centre gambling hall has been refused planning permission.

Midlands firm Mirage Property Services had applied for permission to convert an empty Regent Street shop into a ground floor bingo premises with gaming machines and a first floor tanning centre.

The shop, 21 Regent Street, sits between Poundworld and the former Phones4U store.

Council planners refused planning permission, telling the applicant that the proposals were “not appropriate” for the area.

The town centre already has an “above average presence of … gaming and gambling premises”, planners wrote. A further gambling shop would “not contribute to the vitality, interest or competitiveness of the town centre” - and could “undermine its ongoing regeneration”.

They also said that not enough of the store’s front windows would be made over for retail use.

The borough planners’ comments echoed those made against the development in August by Forward Swindon, the council-owned company aimed at regenerating Swindon’s town centre.

Trudy Godfrey, development project manager at Forward Swindon, said: “Swindon town centre has a higher than average level of vacant units and Swindon Borough Council/Forward Swindon and InSwindon are working jointly on a project to encourage more independent businesses into the town centre.

“This application will make it harder to achieve this positive outcome.”

More than 25 businesses, charities and councillors opposed the plans, putting their names to a letter organised by town centre business group inSwindon.

Di Powell, inSwindon BID chief executive said: “The BID encouraged its members and stakeholders to object to this planning application as it would have a negative impact on the retail diversity in the town centre. We need to attract distinctive independent retailers and national chains that will improve the vitality of Swindon town centre.”

South Swindon Parish Council last month objected to the plans, saying that the proposed bingo hall would not be in keeping with the area.

Coun Neil Hopkins said: “I have a concern around gaming machines. I don’t think in the current environment we should be encouraging anymore of them.”

Today, parish council chairman Coun Chris Watts said: "I am pleased with the decision. The balance and variance of outlets are crucial to ensuring that the town centre offers the diversity to draw people in, especially when having to compete with the out of town shopping centres."

A representative for Mirage Property Services was approached for comment.