Former Sunderland gym will be turned into soft play area after plans approved

A new soft play area is set to open in Sunderland city centre after winning planning approval.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 15:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 16:08 pm
Soft play area plans have been approved at a former gym space in High Street West, Sunderland. Pic: Google Maps.

Last year, an application was submitted to Sunderland City Council for a vacant lot in High Street West, near the Empire Cinema.

This includes changing the use of the space, which was previously occupied by a gym.

New plans include creating a ‘free-standing soft play climbing frame’ on both the ground and first floors.

Wider works include revamping the kitchen, installing toilets and building new walls to facilitate ‘party rooms’.

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According to planning documents, applicant Lynch Soft Play Ltd has existing employees lined up for the centre.

Existing heritage features, including stairs and columns on the ground floor, will remain unaffected.

A design, heritage and access statement submitted to the council says: “Without these alterations being made (to) the property, the current tenant would not be in a position to offer employment to the number of staff indicated and the building would remain vacant.

“I would highlight that if the building was to remain vacant, then this building is likely to remain vacant for a long time and further deteriorate over time.”

Council planners gave the go-ahead to the scheme on Tuesday, March 19.

The council’s conservation officer, quoted in a council decision notice, also welcomed the scheme.

A report states: “All of this work is happening in relatively sterile areas of the building.

“Bringing this unit back into use, (and) reversing some of the previously unauthorised works, is seen to be a positive step in conserving the building.”

Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporting Service