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The owners of a crazy golf venue are set to launch an appeal after being refused planning permission for a second time – but have decided against opening more businesses in Lynn.
Octoputts Crazy Golf opened on the Hardwick Retail Park in October, and has enjoyed a constant stream of eager customers ever since.
However, Oceanus Leisure – which runs the business – was never actually given the green light to construct the premises by West Norfolk Council, and was turned down again last week.
This is mainly due to fears that it would “significantly harm” Lynn’s town centre, with planning officers, the manager of the Vancouver Quarter and the Business Improvement District echoing those concerns.
However, Natalie Atkins, one of the owners of Oceanus Leisure, has told the Lynn News that Octoputts would not be able to fit inside any available town centre buildings. She therefore believes it would be better to let the business operate on the industrial estate rather than not at all.
The company has now confirmed that it plans to appeal against the latest planning rejection, remaining frustrated at being subjected to retail conditions when the owners consider themselves a leisure location.
As well as underwater-themed crazy golf, street food vendors such as Fanny Adams Catering and Reeseys Ice Cream have also been on offer at the site.
“We are a small family-run business, and we are just trying to bring something positive to the area,” Natalie said.
The company also runs the Little Sharks Soft Play Centre next to the Octoputts premises.
Planning officers have said they “strongly resist” any proposed developments which could harm the viability of Lynn 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.”
However, Natalie has remained baffled by these arguments – and says that as well as the issues with size, town centre rent costs also present her with a problem.
“We would need to charge people extortionate prices just to break even, and people won’t pay it,” she said.
“It is a shame, really, because we were looking at other facilities in the centre of town. We have now decided against that because of the discrimination against us.”
Natalie said these facilities could potentially have included new bars in Lynn, but her company is now looking at locations across the Cambridgeshire border.
“It is disappointing when we keep getting our business rejected when the council aren’t even looking at our business as they should be,” she added.
“We are not a retail facility so the council shouldn’t be applying the legislation for retail vendors. We are a leisure establishment and should be looked at as so.
“We are hopeful that our appeal is going to go through.”
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.
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.
However, planning officers said it was “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”.