A pub chain has been condemned by a women’s charity after plans to turn a Doncaster bar into a lap dancing club were thrown out for a second time.
Enterprise Inns appealed against a Doncaster Council decision last December to refuse permission for the change of use of Loaded on Printing Office Street in the town centre.
But a Government-planning inspector has dismissed the appeal after strong opposition from staff at the Changing Lives centre, which is a short distance away on Cleveland Street.
They were concerned about the possible effects on the sensitive work carried out by them.
Stephen Bell, chief executive of Changing Lives, said: “Which part of being a ’responsible business’ would make a leisure company think of opening up a lap-dancing club right opposite a centre which has supported vulnerable women in Doncaster for over 100 years?
“When a big entertainment chain chooses to site a lap-dancing club 38 metres from our front door, a door used by thousands of vulnerable women each year, you have to question the logic, not to mention the company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility.”
Planning inspector Elaine Worthington ruled: “The introduction of a sexual entertainments venue in this location would be directly at odds with the nature of the ongoing work of the women’s centre, and in my view would be likely to be a deterrent to the vulnerable users of the centre, and cause them to feel more unsafe.”
The centre provides a wide and flexible range of services to women and girls, including one-to-one counselling, information, group work on issues like anxiety and low self-esteem, support for women with learning disabilities, mentoring, volunteering and learning opportunities, a registered crèche and a community café.
It offers a supportive environment for women who need extra support with confidence and skills to those who have more complex issues as a result of domestic violence, abuse or exploitation.
Mr Bell said Enterprise Inns underestimated the support for Changing Lives within the local community and businesses in the town.
She said: “In its appeal, the company rather cynically questioned whether the location was appropriate for a Women’s Centre at all.
“In fact, support for women has been available on the site for over 100 years and the building has always been a place of safety for vulnerable women, girls and their families.
“It has been a privilege for me to witness the courage and resilience, change and transformation that takes place for so many women as a result of engaging with the Centre.
“Had the company concerned thought beyond financial gain and more around being part of a community, it would have considered more carefully the impact on already vulnerable women and girls from the age of 11 years, who go into the building during the day and in the evening, with 200 women accessing the service every week.
“On this occasion justice prevailed, but I would make a plea to businesses to carefully consider their local community in any aspect of planning around use of building, especially where it is of a sexual entertainment nature, and to have regard to their duty of care around the local community.”