An historic building on Southampton’s waterfront will soon be home to lap dancing and strip shows.
Blackjack tables will be replaced by dancing poles after city council planners gave permission to turn the Edwardian-era Harbour House into a sexual entertainment venue called the Playhouse Gentlemen’s Club.
Fareham businessman Chris Knight’s plans have been attacked by residents of neighbouring streets who have labelled them “appalling” and claim they will turn the area into a “sleazy downmarket destination”. The interior of the building in Town Quay, which was built in 1910 and has listed status, will now be converted for its new use.
The building was previously used as Maxims Casino, while a nightclub, Club Rosso, also operated on its ground floor.
But both closed last year.
Two stages will be put in, with two poles installed on one and one on the other.
As it has been granted a sexual entertainment venue licence, it will offer lap dancing, pole dancing and strip shows.
Seven full-time staff and 48 part-time workers will be employed at the venue, which will be open from midday to 6am every day of the week and also feature a bar. But residents of the neighbouring area have reacted with anger to the news.
Sue Ridley, of The Greenwich, said: “We are appalled by this turn of events. Where is it going to stop? Are we going to turn Southampton into some sleazy downmarket destination?
“What sort of impressions will we give to the hundreds of tourists who disembark to visit the historic area of Town Quay, the QE2 Mile and SeaCity Museum? It’s a beautiful old building and it’s such a shame that we haven’t been able to do something better with it. I think it will make the whole environment in this area quite seedy, and it’s going to have a big impact.”
Neighbour Hilary Thompson said residents had had a multitude of night-time problems when Maxims casino and Club Rosso were open.
She said: “This is like a continuing nightmare for residents.
“The night time economy in Southampton is centred around Bedford Place, so the police do not have the resources to police this location separately, or properly. It’s a disaster for the area.”
As the property already has a premises licence for alcohol, the plans will not have to go before the council’s licensing committee for final approval. The only consultee able to object formally was Hampshire Constabulary, which did not raise any concerns.
John Noon, one of the area’s representatives on the city council, said: “I don’t think it’s the best place for that kind of entertainment.”