COUNCILLORS have called for greater clarity on the proposed usage of part of the BH2 development.

The application, made by BH2 developers Licet Holdings and Legal & General, along with casino operator Aspers’, is for the use of two units as a 24-hour casino, but it also requests permission for a restaurant or leisure use.

Officers had called on planning board members to grant the application, saying it would “enhance the diverse range of uses available to people in the town centre”.

But at the board meeting on Monday (NOV 21), councillors voted unanimously for deferral to a later date.

Chairman David Kelsey said: “When it first came to the planning board we were told it was a family entertainment centre, restaurants etc.

“Now the developers can’t make their own minds up what they want, they are now saying the want a restaurant or they might want a casino.”

He added: “Residents in this town expect us to make decisions knowing what is going to be there.”

The application had provoked some controversy in the run up to the meeting, with opposition from ward councillors Bob Chapman and David Smith, as well as the Bournemouth Civic Society, but a neutral response from Dorset Police, and letters of support from other businesses and police forces elsewhere which complimented Aspers’ as operators.

At the meeting, Aspers’ chief operating officer Richard Noble said the firm secured a licence to operate in the town nine years ago, and in BH2 had found “the right mix of operators to complement our operation”.

Cllr Chapman said: “My question to developers is why was a casino not mentioned in the original uses.

“We already have two in the town, I’m not sure we need a third.”

Cllr Smith added: “I am sure if we had known that a casino was going to be part of the this development we would have had a different view on whether or not we wanted this scheme to go ahead.”

He said gambling “has become more of a problem across the country” and that children going to the centre’s Odeon cinema would be “going past every day seeing the casino as part of everyday life”.

Members were advised that judgements on gambling itself were not relevant to planning, and Cllr Gina Mackin spoke in favour of the application, saying the casino would provide more entertainment options for visitors.

“We are not policing what people do with their time,” she said.

Cllr Kelsey also said he was not opposed to a casino in principal and said Aspers’ Casinos seemed to be “ very well run premises”.

The plans would create a two floor casino, open 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, with live jazz music, a VIP area and electronic gaming machines.

Planning officers had attached a condition for approval requiring the developers to contribute £16,000 towards CCTV in the town.