The unrealistic rents on Thornton Heath’s struggling High Street were cited in the refusal  of an application to turn a vacant bank in to 24-hour slot machine arcade.

The Council received almost 1,000 objections against the planning application for the former HSBC bank, at 91 High Street which has been vacant for over two years.

Luxury Leisure, which runs Admiral and Quicksilver ‘adult gaming’ centres submitted a change of use to open the arcade. In  refusing the application planners argued that the £35,000 rent for the premises appeared ‘excessive.’

Among the objections, some residents had suggested other more acceptable uses for the shop site, including as a café or restaurant. James Commercial, the commercial letting agent for the premises in a supporting letter, claimed that no other tenant with a commercially viable use had yet come forward to lease the site.

However, Croydon planners said: “No evidence has been submitted that £35,000 per annum is a reasonable rate, and in fact appears excessive given the claimed condition of the unit, location and lawful planning use.”

A number of high profile buildings on the High Street including the Thomas Farley, HSBC and Barclays have sat empty because of unrealistic rents.

Wimpy was forced to  close in October after its rent became untenable when the landlord doubled it to £39,000 and sits empty on the same parade as the HSBC  along with Morley’s chicken shop which was repossessed last month.

James Commercial in support said the proposed adult gaming centre use would ‘benefit and complement’ existing neighbouring uses.

A firm of planning consultants Litchfields  employed by Admiral to handle the planning application put the vacant shops at the  forefront of its argument for gaining permission stating there was ‘no evident prospect’ of it being let. 

The main reason for refusing the application was the impact of the development on: the vitality and viability of the District Shopping Centre, and that this was contrary to the revised Croydon Local Plan. There is the possibility of an appeal.

Thornton Heath Community Action Team submitted a petition to Croydon Council with 926  signatures gathered in just seven days – 126 were from people who signed a paper version of the petition outside Tesco. In addition 36 individuals objected directly on the council’s planning portal.

Residents objections included: that the  proposal undermined the High Street’s vitality along with concerns about anti social behaivour, the social impact of gambling in an already deprieved area with four other gambling establishments  nearby.

In the letter of  refusal the applicant was also told it had failed to demonstrate that the proposed 24 hour use would not have an adverse impact on neighbouring properties.”