A NIGHTCLUB set to open in Cheltenham this month could be transformed into a strip club during one of the town's showpiece festivals.
Bosses at Embassy, in Pittville Street, have applied for a sexual entertainment licence, enabling it to host lap dances during race week.
If it is permitted, it would be the only venue in the town allowed to host the erotic performances – after former strip club The Blue Room closed.
Critics of the move said granting such licences risked encouraging lurid behaviour at a time when the town was under the media spotlight.
But Embassy owner Leslie Grant claimed it would be a one-off annual event, carried out in a "discreet" manner.
He said: "The intention would be to limit lap dances to race week so they would not be held at any other time of year.
"Several other clubs in the town centre have had a similar arrangement in the past and it will just enable us to compete on a level playing field.
"If the application is permitted, it would not be advertised and we would take steps to ensure it was done in a discreet, tasteful way."
Other town venues which have been licensed to host strippers in the past include Thai restaurant D-Fly, in Clarence Street, and former night club Dakota, in Bath Road, which closed last summer.
A change in the law means club owners wanting to offer lap dances for more than 24 hours need to apply for a permanent licence. So far, Embassy is the only venue to have made such a bid.
The club, at the site formerly occupied by Mbargo, is set to open on February 25.
Councillor Jacky Fletcher (C, Benhall and the Reddings) warned the move should be carefully monitored.
"As long as it's done in a proper way I think it is ok," she said. "But we don't want this sort of thing going on all over the town.
"If there are too many, we might have to look at how to limit it as it's not the sort of thing we want Cheltenham to become known for."
The application is open to consultation until February 29. A decision will be made by borough council licensing chiefs next month.