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A crazy golf venue which has already been open for nearly three months has been refused planning permission again overs fears it would “significantly harm” Lynn’s town centre.Octoputts Crazy Golf started welcoming customers to its Hardwick Retail Park premises at Berol Park, off of Scania Way, in October.Rebekah Chilvers, the Lynn News’ head of news, was among the many keen customers to pay a visit, enjoying the underwater themes and street food vendors such as Fanny Adams Catering and Reeseys Ice Cream.
However, a planning application seeking permission to actually construct the premises has now been turned down by West Norfolk Council for a second time, raising serious questions over its future.Planning officers say they “strongly resist” any proposed developments which could harm the viability of the town centre, and felt that Octoputts would do that if given the go-ahead.In a report, planning officers said: “It is considered that an out of town retail site would undermine the opportunity for this type of development to occur in the town centre.
“Consequently, it would potentially have a significant impact on the further diversification of the town centre.”They added: “Overall, taking the above consideration fully in to account is clear that the proposed location is not suitably justified or evidenced and again there is no evidence or justification that a town centre location could not be considered for this proposal.”The application, submitted by Oceanus Leisure, sought a change of use of an existing commercial storage facility to a crazy golf centre and an external area for mobile catering units.It was the second time the company had applied for permission, having had a previous attempt turned down for similar reasons – with planning officers also asking for a flood report to be carried out.
Parker Planning Services, which prepared a planning report on behalf of Oceanus Leisure, argued that the borough council’s original decision mistakenly classed the crazy golf centre as a retail premises, rather than leisure.It said that the application should therefore not be subject to worries about town centre viability, which primarily concerns retail businesses.“Perhaps the planning officer or department didn’t understand what was meant by an indoor crazy golf use, as they refer to it as a retail use throughout the officer report, or they are getting confused between retail uses and some uses you sometimes get within town centres,” a design and access statement said.
“As the proposed use is not ‘retail’ it would not compete with the retail offering of the town centre.“Also if it was moved into the town centre, it would otherwise take up a retail unit (if one was available).”However, numerous parties objected to the application – including the manager of the Vancouver Quarter in Lynn.In a report, they said that with the borough council recently completing a feasibility study looking at market demand for this type of business as part of the Town Deal, there is an opportunity for crazy golf in the town centre.They added that the recent closure of Wilko and the shutting down of Debenhams a few years ago means there are spaces available.Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Business Improvement District (BID) said: “Post Covid we are particularly committed to encouraging new and different uses for town centre premises, and, as a voice for business, to highlight the challenges that they face.“We are a member of the Town Deal Board and strongly advocated the need to repurpose vacant town centre premises to diversify the offer, and increase dwell time.“Experiential leisure offers just this type of opportunity and could have a transformational impact on the town centre.“We are concerned that if this proposal was to go ahead on an out-of-town retail site that it would undermine the opportunity for this type of development to occur in the town centre.“Consequently, it would potentially have a significant impact on the further diversification of the town centre.”The application being turned down leaves the future of Octoputts hanging in the balance.The venue is closed on Monday and Tuesdays, but it was open as recently as the weekend – although it had to shut early on Saturday due to a technical fault with its lighting and sound system.On Christmas Eve, a post on Facebook said: “We are blown away by the support you have all shown us since we opened in October and it’s been amazing for us to see you all enjoying our venue.“We would also like to thank you all the people, businesses and vendors who have helped us create Octoputts and bring our visions to life.“It has been very humbling for us to have the help and support of such great local businesses, some of which have worked tirelessly and around the clock to ensure we were ready for our opening week.”