WIRRAL bowlers say they can now look to the future after Wirral Council approved a relocation plan for a closure-threatened bowling alley.
Planning committee members also voted through an application for a £7m redevelopment of the leisure area at the Croft Retail Park in Bromborough – where The Bowl is currently located.
The bowling alley will now move to a unit in Bassendale Road, also in Bromborough, and the new facility is expected to open in August.
Council officers had recommended the two planning applications for refusal over concerns more shops and another restaurant on the park could have an adverse impact on town centres like Birkenhead.
But councillors rejected the argument and voted unanimously to approve both proposals last Thursday.
Members of Bromborough Youth Bowling Club (YBC) attended the meeting at Wallasey Town Hall to show their support and gave a rapturous round of applause as councillors voted through the plans.
Dominic Finnigan, President of YBC and chairman of Cheshire Tenpin Bowling Association, said: “We’re all over the moon. What we have now is a permanent home for the thirty plus kids in Bromborough YBC, three special needs leagues, seven adult and senior leagues but more importantly a bowling centre in a community that really want it there.
“The hard work now starts with the planning of the move to the new unit.
“Without this positive decision we may not have had a county association any longer.”
Mr Finnigan thanked Bromborough Councillor Steve Niblock and Wirral South MP Alison McGovern for their support.
Last month the Bowl’s owners warned they could be forced to close if the relocation plan was rejected, saying they were operating from a dated building at the Croft which was expensive to run.
The future of the facility has been hanging in the balance since the leisure area redevelopment plans were announced last summer.
Trevor Green, director of the company which runs The Bowl, Bowl 300 Ltd, said: “It’s excellent news and everybody is ecstatic to say the least.
“We’ll be taking all our equipment with us which will be a labour intensive job – but it’s worth it.”
Bromborough Councillor Steve Niblock spoke at the meeting in support of both applications and said he was delighted at the decision.
The plans for the redevelopment of the Croft's leisure area, unveiled by park owners USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme) last summer, include a smaller but upgraded Odeon cinema with its own dedicated entrance and a new family restaurant.
USS says there will also be improvements to pedestrian, cycle and disabled access.
The Croft plans were due to be debated in February, but USS argued they should be heard alongside the application for the Bowl.
USS’s Retail & Leisure Portfolio Manager, Fergus Egan, said: “We are delighted with the council’s decision.
“This helps to secure the future of a bowling facility in Bromborough, as well as enabling us to provide an improved environment and range of goods and services to visitors to the Croft Retail & Leisure Park.”