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Neighbours fight plans for 24-hour casino at historic Mayfair street

The basement gaming room could allow smoking, says application

19 October, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Society Dame’s former home could become gambling joint

NEIGHBOURS of an opulent mansion block in Mayfair say their peace and quiet is at stake if plans to convert the building into a casino are approved.

A raft of objections have been filed at Westminster’s planning department as developers persevere with proposals for the 24-hour gambling complex in Charles Street.

Residents living nearby say the street will become clogged up with cars – both customers’ and delivery trucks – while gamblers will cause disturbance on their way in and out, and while enjoying a new terrace in the building’s courtyard.

A doctor, whose flat is among several overlooking this area, said in her objection that a casino operation would disrupt their children’s lives.

“It is unacceptable for their childhood to be dominated by looking out of the windows of their rooms and seeing people gambling,” the objection, published on the council’s website said.

“It is not proper for them to become aware of drinking and smoking from a young age by seeing that way of life from their windows. When they are a little older it will be disastrous for them to come into contact with the sort of people who may be in the vicinity of the entrance to a casino.”

The Grade II-listed building was once home to the offices of Debrett’s, the society etiquette consultants who publish Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage.

Further back in the history book, it was owned by Dame Margaret Greville, a society host whose jewellery collection was bequeathed to the royal family.

Dame Margaret 

This included an emerald tiara seen in public for the first time on Friday when it was worn by Princess Eugenie at her wedding to Jack Brooks- bank.

The new plans have been submitted by Continuity Capital, a company which finances developments, but the actual operator of the proposed casino has not been named.

The building’s first floor ballroom will be a private bar, while the other floors will feature gaming rooms, and one “for younger gamblers” will have slot machines and a sports bar.

A basement gaming room will see smoking permitted with the operators planning a tobacco extractor system.

Another objection – the council now redacts the names of those who have written them – said: “It simply cannot be appropriate for a casino to be sited next to a large residential block. Would you want to use the entrance to the block when there is a casino right next door to it? Especially so for women coming back to the apartment alone, or families with young children. Many people will be worried by the increased risk to their personal safety by having a casino next door.”

It added: “There are mainly expensive residential houses and flats and the use of the non-residential properties is extremely gentil [sic] in character. It would destroy the character of one of London’s best known historical streets.”

Other objectors noted that there were 11 casinos elsewhere in Mayfair already in operation, with the view that there was no need for another one and distinguishing Charles Street as a more residential road.

Alexander Hauschildt, from Residents’ Society of Mayfair and St James’s group, said: “Charles Street is predominantly residential and office use and therefore a casino is not appropriate or fair to the residents in this location.

“The increased traffic and pedestrians at all hours of the day will dam- age the current atmosphere in the street. We have been asked by our residents to object on their behalf and as a committee we all came to an agreement that a casino in this street is not at all suitable.”

In its application Continuity Capital’s design team said neighbours would be protected from disturbance with limits on music and restricted hours to the terrace, which would have a canopy. Nobody would be able to see gambling take place, it said, adding: “After the restricted hours, customers will be directed to the gaming room at basement level where smoking will be permitted due to the installation of a tobacco smoke extract system.

“The canopy has been designed using an inter- layer glass which will diffuse any views down into the basement gaming room, preventing any overlooking from neighbouring properties.”

The application said the conversion would make only small changes to Dame Margaret’s former entertaining spaces inside the building to ensure “limited impact to the historical features”.

It added: “Specialist lighting will be fitted to the gaming tables to minimise any further impact to the ceiling.”

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