Docklands casino planned

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The Independent Online
A building severely damaged by last February's IRA bombing in Docklands could become home to the first legally operated casino in east London.

Since 1968, when the Krays and other criminal gangs were still active and the Gaming Act became law, the "permitted area" for casinos in the capital has been confined mainly to the West End.

The building, opposite Canary Wharf and formerly called South Quay Tower, was mothballed during the worst of the recession and, at the time of the bombing, in which two people were killed, was still an incomplete shell. The damage to it is now being repaired and, as part of a 350,000- square foot commercial/residential complex with a projected value on completion of more than pounds 50m, it has been renamed Canary View.

The developer of the site - Jemstock, an associate company of Capital & Provident Management - was granted planning consent for a casino by the local authority, the London Docklands Development Corporation, shortly after Christmas.

The results of the Home Office's secondary stage of consultation are due to be published at the end of this month. Providing there is time for the process to complete its parliamentary schedule, and there is all- party agreement before the general election, the way should then be open for the operator of the casino to apply to the Gaming Board and seek a licence from a local magistrate.

According to Savill's, the appointed international selling agent, the casino could be open by the end of the year. The firm emphasises, however, that the gaming aspect is "just one element" of a package consisting mainly of a four-to-five star, 265-bedroom hotel. If sold on lease as a shell, the asking price would be pounds 13m plus.

"For this reason," Savill's says, "we've been aiming at the hotel and not the gaming industry, and have approached all the major operators. There's been a lot of interest but it's too soon yet for negotiations to be advanced with anyone."