Final approval has been given to knock down Morecambe Superbowl and build an Aldi supermarket in its place.
Councillors voted 13 to 2 to award planning permission.
Aldi will also demolish its current store to make way for the new bigger, modern-looking supermarket and extended car park on the corner of Marine Road and Central Drive.
The decision was made at a Lancaster City Council planning committee meeting on Monday.
The owners of Morecambe Superbowl have said the business is in decline and was set to close anyway. They have struck a deal to sell the land to Aldi.
Voting in favour were councillors Kay, Cozler, Redfern, Denwood, Bryning, Ashworth, Brookes, Barry, Thomas, Sykes, Rogerson, Parkinson and Helme. Voting against were councillors Pattison and Clift.
Coun Margaret Pattison said: “I feel sad that our wonderful seaside town will be full of supermarkets taking business away from small businesses. We need leisure, not a promenade full of car parks and supermarkets.”
But Coun Susan Sykes said: “I give this my full backing.
“These commercial (leisure) outlets are very expensive, perhaps that’s a reason why they are failing. You can’t buck the market. There is clearly a need for these budget supermarkets.”
Stuart Parks, property director for Aldi North West, said there would be 40-50 jobs at the new Aldi, compared to the 27 at the existing supermarket.
Mr Parks said the new store would have “great regeneration benefits” for Morecambe and would “improve investor confidence in Morecambe town centre”. He also said the current store was “small and cramped”.
David Croxall, clerk to Morecambe Town Council, spoke on behalf of the town council who opposed the plans.
He said: “Aldi and the owners of the bowling alley appear to be the only beneficiaries from this application. There will be no positive effect on the economy but there will be an adverse effect on the town centre. The loss of the current leisure attraction will also mean the loss of a prime seafront site which can be developed for leisure use.”
After the meeting, John Bates, president of the local chamber of trade, said: “This development will further damage the town centre economy without adding to the economy of the town as a whole.
“There will be net job losses and the loss of a prime leisure site.”
The bowling alley building also currently includes Bedland and Sofaland furniture store, and Tongue ‘N’ Groove body piercing shop.
The new Aldi would be much larger (1,236 sqm) than the current Aldi store on Marine Road West (760 sqm).
A Lancaster City Council planning report published this week says the loss of Morecambe Superbowl, which opened in 1993, is seen as a “significant weakness of the proposal” but the new bigger supermarket would “improve the amenity of the area as a whole”.
“It must be remembered that levels of investment to Morecambe are still comparatively low,” says the report.
“It is regrettable the bowling facility and associated retail units are proposed to be lost; however a contemporary and visually appealing building is proposed in its place. “Officers consider in general design terms there would be a general improvement to the amenity of the area as a whole. It is considered that approval of this scheme would not be detrimental to the vitality of Morecambe Town Centre, given that the supermarket operator already retails from a similar location, and from a highways perspective it is considered that the development is acceptable.”
The report also says that Morecambe Superbowl is no longer a viable business and has no desire to relocate.
“The council accepts that there has been decline in the ten pin bowling sector over the last decade and there has been a gradual decline in the number of facilities,” it says.
“Of note is that in 2013 (Superbowl owners) Taylors Cumbrian Amusements were granted hardship relief from the council regarding business rates on the basis that the council considered that the awarding of the hardship relief was in the interest of the local people (presumably to retain the leisure use).
“It also transpires that the owners of the business do not take a wage from the business and the owner has considered investing further in the business to help make it viable. The applicant has stated that investment in the machinery associated with the bowling equipment is now required (given this is in the region of 45 years old – the cost of replacement bowling machines alone would be circa £500,000).
“Bank funding has been considered, however given the trading performance of the business it would simply not be sustainable, given the ability of the business to repay any loan is based on its turnover.”
Meanwhile separate plans have gone in for a smaller 10-pin bowling lounge above Pleasureland amusement arcade in Morecambe.