The Town Council has today written an open letter to Cheshire East, the Secretary of State and the Planning Inspector asking them to take action to prevent the loss of the Bowling Alley. The text of the letter is set out below:
Crewe Town Council wishes to express in the strongest terms its opposition to the proposal by Albemarle Properties to expand the number of cinema screens and restaurant facilities at the Phoenix Leisure Park in Crewe. This proposed development will mean the loss of the Lakeside Superbowl Bowling Alley in Crewe. The people of Crewe and the bowling alley users submitted two lengthy petitions and numerous letters to Cheshire East planning committee to show their opposition to the proposed development.
The Council understands the commercial aspects of the proposed changes and is aware of the various planning constraints that relate to the site. However, it feels that Albemarle Properties has little knowledge of the town of Crewe or of the impact that their drive to increase profitability will have on the people of Crewe.
The Council wishes to highlight the following facts about the importance of this facility and the consequences of its loss:
- The Bowling Alley is a facility that draws people into Crewe from the surrounding area who then use other facilities in the Town. As such it is not only an ambassador for the town but a source of customers for other businesses.
- The nearest alternative bowling alley is on the Festival Park in Hanley, a considerable distance from Crewe. It would be even further for current users of the bowling alley who live in the nearby towns of Middlewich, Sandbach, Nantwich and the surrounding rural areas.
- The current facility is economically viable. The company who currently operate the bowling alley are eager to continue to trade and wish to renew their current lease.
- The changes proposed by Albemarle Properties are designed to make the site more profitable but they will not provide a unique facility for the people of Crewe and the surrounding area as does the bowling alley.
- Bowling offers participants of all ages the opportunity to exercise, something that government health spokesmen are encouraging people to do, to stay healthy. Albemarle Properties propose to close this facility which is host to a number of bowling clubs and leagues. This shows a lack of concern for the people of Crewe and their health.
- Crewe has been highlighted as the town in Cheshire East with the highest rates of obesity, poor diet and ill health. The loss of an opportunity to exercise with the potential that it is replaced with a passive opportunity to consume food is seen by Crewe Town Council as a retrograde step.
In short the loss of this facility runs counter to the Council’s general planning policy to support thoughtful proposals that bring development to Crewe Town Centre. The Town Council Planning Committee will support commercial and leisure development that re-invigorates the Town Centre and allows a night time economy to develop. In itself this proposed change is not seen as re-invigorating the leisure opportunities on offer. It would, in fact, reduce the choice of leisure activity and limit the development of the night time economy.
The Town Council has approached Albemarle Properties to broker a compromise that allows the Bowling Alley to continue being used for that purpose as well as the increase in cinema screens and food outlets it proposes.
Crewe Town Council calls upon the relevant planning authority, Secretary of State and Planning Inspectorate to use their powers to oppose the changes proposed by Albemarle Properties so that the people of Crewe and surrounding areas can continue to enjoy the benefits to health and well-being provided by this facility.