Plans approved for new Sunderland bowling alley

Last stages of the demolition of the bowling alley, for the new Tesco at the bottom of Newcastle Road.

Last stages of the demolition of the bowling alley, for the new Tesco at the bottom of Newcastle Road.

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PLANS to open a new bowling alley in Sunderland have been approved.

Councillors have given BKF Bowling permission to launch the 19,396 square foot site at Sunderland Enterprise Park.

Passing its change of use application for an industrial unit in Colima Avenue, which is currently vacant, they said it would “benefit the area”.

The proposals came about after the Excel Bowling Alley, in Monkwearmouth, shut its doors after nearly 50 years in business.

Fears for the future of the city’s first bowling alley arose after Tesco submitted a planning application to level the site, in Newcastle Road, and build a new superstore and retail development in its place.

But now the family-run firm, which closed last year, looks set to be back in business.

Outdoor clothing firm Berghaus, which is based at Sunderland Enterprise Park, had objected to the plans.

It argued that the proposals went against designated land use policies and that the area was becoming more retail and leisure orientated, detracting from its primary uses as office and light industry.

The company also said that it was visited by a range of international clients, who expected a “high-quality businesses environment”, and that the bowling alley would “significantly reduce the appearance, nature, function and operation” of its headquarters.

However, councillors heard the bowling alley’s busiest times would be outside office hours.

“There have been problems with parking in the area, but you also have a McDonald’s and leisure centre down there,” said Coun Denny Wilson.

“It is not as if this would be the only leisure facility there.

“There are other things close by which will probably benefit from it being there.”

Previously, Frank Stametti, who has run the business for more than 30 years, praised council officials who helped hammer out an agreement.

Mr Stametti, who builds bowling alleys around the world, including at the Olympic Village in London, said he hoped more jobs could be created at the site.

“We got a great response from some of the planners there,” he said. “They have worked very, very hard.”

Regulars helped put together a 5,000 signature petition calling on the council to step in and help save the Excel.

Developers have also assured bowlers that the new alley will be accredited by the British Tenpin Bowling Association, so league games and competitions can still take place.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho