Anger at William St. amusement arcade plan

Traders in one of Derry city centre’s busiest streets have voiced opposition to plans to open another amusement arcade in the area.

A planning application to open a ‘coffee bar/amusement arcade’ at 38 William Street has recently been lodged with the Planning Service.

The official documentation - seen by the ‘Journal’ - reveals that both the applicant and agent have addresses in Belfast.

While the plan isn’t expected to be discussed before Derry City Council for some weeks, local business people are already up in arms at the move.

Seamus McLaughlin, of the family-owned Michael McLaughlin & Sons - which is located next door to the proposed arcade - says such a premises would be ‘detrimental’ to the area.

Mr. McLaughlin says a similar application was refused by planners 15 years ago.

“Our opposition has not changed since then,” he said.

“Recent development in William Street, as part of the public realm project, has enhanced the area greatly and injected new life into a street that suffered so much over the years.

“Never did we envisage seeing dozens of tourists in our shops and on guided tours in our street.

“To have a gaming arcade in the midst of this would, in our opinion, be detrimental to the existing economic growth and social fabric of the area.

“As a family business here since 1913, we hope that the Planning Service will take on board our concerns and make the only responsible decision by refusing this application.”

Local SDLP councillor Sean Carr says his party has been contacted by businesses in William Street.

“They are concerned at another amusement arcade coming to this part of the city,” he said.

“The SDLP objected to a previous, similar application for the same location, which was subsequently refused, and we look forward to seeing the decision from the Planning Service on this application.”