One of Huddersfield’s most popular indoor play venues has been granted extended opening hours – after inadvertently operating in breach of planning permission for nine years.
Playworld in Marsh, a children’s playgym and adult roller skating rink, opened in 2014 but the planning permission only allowed the venue to stay open until 9pm.
The premises had an alcohol licence which allowed opening until 11.45pm on Friday and Saturday nights and 10.45pm the rest of the week – and those were the hours it operated.
Playworld founder, local businessman Raj Handa, applied to Kirklees Council to amend the hours and some local residents objected, fearing noise and nuisance as people left the premises late at night.
Planning officers agreed to the venue’s application to change the hours – to 12.30am on Friday and Saturday and 11.15pm the rest of the week – but suggested a six-month temporary permission to assess the potential nuisance.
At a meeting of the council’s Huddersfield area planning committee, Mr Handa addressed councillors and said a temporary permission would not allow them to take advance bookings and would threaten the future of the business.
He said the company had invested over £500,000 in the derelict former DIY store and had created a successful business employing 30 staff.
He told the committee: “Since we opened Playworld it’s been voted No1 family destination in Huddersfield.
“We have visitors from neighbouring boroughs including Wakefield, Halifax, Leeds, Brighouse and even Manchester. Playworld has put Huddersfield back on the map for family destinations.
“Since we opened in 2014 we have been operating unknowingly outside the permitted hours of our planning permission. This was a major oversight from our teams at Playworld, the planning officers at Kirklees and the planning consultants.
“We assumed for these nine years we had full lawful permission to operate under our licence permitted hours.”
Mr Handa said a temporary permission would have a massive impact and the business could face closure if it wasn’t allowed to book late night events beyond six months.
The business had been hit by the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis and Mr Handa added: “We need to do everything we can to keep the doors open.
“We could understand if this was a new ask for hours to be varied or changed but we have been operating these hours since day one without any issues or enforcement from Kirklees.”
One of the councillors who lives on nearby Syringa Street, Clr Bernard McGuin (Con, Almondbury), said he had not noticed any particular problems with the venue.
Councillors were split and a proposal to grant a six-month permission was voted down. An alternative proposal to grant permanent permission was approved by seven votes to three.
The committee added a condition for a single-glazed aluminium fire door to be replaced to help block out noise.