No plans to close Namco Funscape in Ipswich despite retail application

GV of the Namco Funscape building after a planning application has been lodged online to change from a bowling alley to...

GV of the Namco Funscape building after a planning application has been lodged online to change from a bowling alley to retail space. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Land owners of a popular bowling alley in Ipswich have moved to ease fears over a potential change of use to retail space, after a planning application was lodged to the council.

The application was submitted to Ipswich Borough Council requesting a change of use for the Namco Funscape bowling alley in Boss Hall Road to change from leisure to non-food retail space.

The matter is currently in its consultation phase, with the planning committee set to consider the application in December.

However, land owners Honeyview Investments Limited have insisted a contract is in place for Namco to occupy the space at least for the next 15 years, and that they were merely exploring opportunities in the future.

Honeyview asset manager Carl Minter, said: “We have a long standing relationship with Namco, and it is really looking at potential opportunities in the future.

“We have got a few sites with Namco, and we don’t want to cause unnecessary concern – it is purely an opportunity to look at further down the line.”

Supporting documents in the application state that “It is anticipated that the premises would be occupied by a large format retailer, with a focus on discounted branded goods.

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“There is a need to secure an alternative use for the existing Namco Funscape premises at Sproughton Road, Ipswich, in advance of the anticipated vacancy that will arise in the near future.

“Due to the economic circumstances affecting similar leisure operators it is extremely unlikely that a new tenant will be secured within the D2 [leisure] use class.”

Mr Minter added: “The reason that is in there is that we wouldn’t be looking to do anything in the town centre, we would be looking to do the kind of store typically on out-of-town retail sites.”

An application for a change of use submitted last year was refused by the planning committee due to “inadequate information”.

Namco spokesman Philip Nord, said: “The landlord is looking at more viable opportunities.

“We will continue discussions with the landlord and we will continue to pursue a number of opportunities.”

It is not known whether Namco would move to a different premises in the town centre if the application was approved, but would leave the town without a dedicated bowling alley, with the nearest alternative being Kingpin in Martlesham.