A Brighton board games cafe is planning to open in the former Emporium theatre on London Road.
Dice Saloon, which currently has a home in New England Street, has applied for a change of use to mixed retail, leisure and assembly.
The building, originally used as a Methodist church until 2006, was home to Emporium until 2016, when it was evicted following financial difficulties.
Its planning application for change of use from a church, which has the application number BH2020/00666, was written by Lewis & Co planning consultants.
It says: “The building is to be occupied by Dice Saloon, a successful local board and PC gaming company, currently located in the nearby Longley Industrial Estate.
“This leisure premises is a valuable asset that serves an active gaming community in the area.
“Their current lease is to expire at the end of March 2020 due to the approved redevelopment of the Longley Industrial Estate.
The application says the existing lobby would be turned into a board games shop, the church area would be used to host gaming events every day of the week and a PC games area would be created in the former community hall at the back.
Social events related to computer gaming would be held here regularly gamers would also be able to rent consoles by the hour and there would also be a card game seating area to the rear of the ground floor.
The only external alteration proposed is the installation of new glazed doors to the street entrance.
The application continues: “Playing board games is an inherently social activity, which brings people together for a shared purpose.
“This is therefore a positive evolution of the building that enhances the social infrastructure around London Road.
“Additionally, the board game and PC / console gaming focus helps support and promote the creative digital and information technology cluster burgeoning in the area.
“The resultant public social gaming centre will provide a community venue that aligns with the innovative appeal of the regenerated area.
“Moreover, the gaming events Dice Saloon currently hold can attract hundreds of people. The events bring people from across the UK and sometimes Europe into Brighton.
“This has an undoubtedly positive impact on local businesses such as hotels, cafes, restaurants and other cultural / tourist sites.”
The theatre closed in November 2016 after it was evicted from the former Methodist church.
Emporium had applied for planning permission, but this was refused in 2013. However no formal enforcement action was ever taken. It did have an alcohol licence.
Dice Saloon currently employs 20 people at its current base, and estimates it would need to take on an extra 30 people if it moved to London Road.
Over the last two days, 60 people have commented in favour of the application, all of whom are anonymous and most of whom say they use the current centre.
One said: “The place is a centre for nerds, gamers and geeks of all stripes and is a nexus of activity, friendships and events every day.
“They are the only place to buy certain lines, games and products for miles.
“The shop is inclusive, friendly, fun and critically useful to me and many, many others as a venue and shop.
“It needs to continue and get bigger and better.”
Another said: “Dice Saloon helps support the local gaming community, they do this by bringing young and old people from all different backgrounds together to engage in a variety of table top hobbies.
“I have enjoyed (and still do) many days here as have my children. The move to London Road will really put DS on the map, in a key location everyone knows London Road.
“Thank you Dice Saloon and Team for all the work you do.”
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