Fun and games for Uckfield tots

New soft play area proposed for Uckfield
New soft play area proposed for Uckfield

Youngsters in Uckfield could be enjoying indoor games with tunnels, nets, rope bridges and bubble tubes if councillors and planners approve of a new scheme.

Mr and Mrs Asa Jago have lodged an application to convert a former motor repair workshop in Bell Lane into a centre which would offer toddlers and older children an exciting soft play area.

Proposals include a baby area with walkers and toys while toddlers could enjoy padded mats, shapes and balls.

A separate sensory area is targeted at children and young adults with learning disabilities and will offer bubble tubes, mirrors, tactile walls and colour-changing lights.

There would be a birthday party room, costume character appearances, a private breast-feeding area, baby changing and CCTV of the play equipment for parents in the coffee shop.

The couple initially wanted to convert industrial units in New Road, Ridgewood but that scheme was turned down by both the town and district council in December last year. Uckfield planning committee members said at the time they were concerned about inadequate access and potential safety. The scheme could also have been refused because it fell inside the seven kilometre ‘no development’ zone flung around the Ashdown Forest as part of the European habitat directive.

In their new application report Mr and Mrs Jago said they researched potential demand and most people said they have visited or will visit one of the other soft play centres in the area and would welcome something more local to them.

And they say this centre would be for activities solely based within the units on Bell Lane and would not create any recreational use of the Ashdown Forest.

Their statement adds: “It is considered a large proportion of customers will use sustainable means of travel to and from the play centre. Even if they all travel by car no increase in traffic movements would be created.”

Fewer of them would need to travel to Tunbridge Wells to use the centres there.

If it goes ahead the centre would be open from 10am-6pm daily, cater for children from 0-13 as well as young adults with learning disabilities and provide drinks, snacks and nourishimg meals from a cafe.

There would be three staff during weekday term time and extra staff at weekends and during school holidays.

It would be expected to attract 14,000 visitors a year numbering about 55 customers a day with 120 a day on Saturday and Sunday.