New six lane Norfolk bowling alley and cinema given the go ahead

A six-lane ten pin bowling alley and cinema in a Norfolk town was given the go-ahead yesterday after councillors praised the business plan.

South Norfolk Council's planning committee backed Traditional English Properties' application to build the alley, cafe and single-screen cinema studio within a 675sq m extension at Heywood Sports and Racquet Club in Walcot Road, Diss.

The club's owner Chris Burnard said he bought the business in March 2008 from the previous owner, who was in danger of going bankrupt and had revitalised the club by providing two new gyms, squash courts, tennis and table tennis equipment, five-a-side football pitch, sauna and bar.

However, he added he had taken the business as far as he could based on sports activities and needed to introduce a 'recreational element' to ensure it thrived in the future.

He told yesterday's meeting: 'We realise we need the recreational activity and and ten-pin bowling encompasses all age groups. Mums, dads and kids can do it on a murky Sunday. A combination of leisure and sports facilities on site would be the only way to run it.'

The bowling alley will be on the ground floor, with the cafe and cinema on the mezzanine floor. The screen will show feature films and cartoons to entertain children not involved in ten-pin bowling.

The scheme, which was backed by Diss Town Council, will be in place of a scheme that has not yet been built for a swimming pool, spa, badminton court and fitness studio extension that was granted in 2010.

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The council received three letters from residents objecting to the plans, citing increased traffic and inadequate on site parking, as well as noise at night.

However, customers will be able to use the car park at nearby Diss High School as an overflow car park during busy times.

Councillor Joseph Mooney said he supported the plans and was pleased to see a small business investing in new facilities.

He added: 'I think it is great to see a small business like this investing in the club and I think overall it is a very good club and providing enhanced facilities in Diss in what is, I am sure, a very well run club.'

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