A BROTHER and sister team behind a proposed soft play in the town centre say they will fight plans for a rival centre in Barons Quay – having been priced out of the new development.

Ian King from Rudheath says the Kingdom of Play venture – set to open in Witton Walk, behind Clintons, in October – negotiated on a Barons Quay unit for nine months to no avail.

Due to high costs, the start-up business sought alternative premises and was shocked when the Guardian reported last week that Cheshire West and Chester Council had submitted plans to change a Barons Quay unit into a soft play for a different tenant.

READ >>> Soft play and cafe plans for Barons Quay

Ian said: “We started off by looking at units just outside of town, so Denton Drive and industrial warehouse-type places.

“We approached our investor and said we’d really like to get into Barons Quay, but it’s going to cost more.

“With building work and staff, it’s a huge amount of money before you have even opened. It was quite scary for a new start-up, and it is a lot to ask.”

Northwich Guardian:

Ian, who owns his own IT company, has harboured ambitions of opening a play area since his son was born eight years ago, and two years of thorough research have gone into these plans.

Kingdom of Play is set to include soft play spaces for children and toddlers, a sensory play area with specialist equipment, a party room, and a café including a pizza oven where children can create their own dishes.

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There will also be a ‘roleplay’ area where Witton Street will be recreated for children to play shopkeeper and parents to reminisce about much-loved businesses past.

Ian’s parents ran Kings Stores in Victoria Road, and both he and his sister are Northwich born and bred.

He said: “We were both born in Northwich, less than a mile from Barons Quay – you don’t get much more Northwich than us. It’s never been about making money but about what’s best for the town.

“We put change of use plans in on November 29 and only got approval a couple of weeks ago. You can bet your bottom dollar that it won’t take that long for the Barons Quay unit.

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“At the moment if they open it’s going to sink us, two years of research will go down the drain. They should have given us a chance before they let someone else in, and It really feels like we’ve been stabbed in the back.

“I will not roll over and die. I love Northwich and I really want to see Barons Quay take off, but I am going to fight this every step of the way.

“We have got a lot more people in the town with the new developments at Winnington and the like, but I don’t know if the town can support two places like this. It’s a lot of risk for us.”

Northwich Guardian:

Ian’s investor has dropped out since the Barons Quay plans were lodged, leaving him relying on timed business loans.

CWAC cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr Richard Beacham, said: “The leasing strategy for Barons Quay has been adapted to reflect the challenging retail environment on UK high streets.

“In Northwich, we continue to work with a wide range of applicants to develop a vibrant community and retail space in the town centre – this is what was promised to local residents and we are committed to realising these plans.”