Plans submitted to transform soft play area to restaurant

change of use of the first floor of the Pop-Inn cafe's soft play area, Playland, to be converted to a restaurant.

Plans have been submitted to North Norfolk District Council for change of use of the first floor of the Pop-Inn cafe's soft play area, Playland, to be converted to a restaurant. - Credit: Google Maps

The owner of a soft play area with dreams of turning it into a restaurant said the pandemic helped make his mind up to go for it.

Perry Underwood, the owner of Pop Inn has submitted plans that would see his Wells soft play area, Playland, transformed into a restaurant and accommodation.

The application submitted to North Norfolk District Council for change of use of the first floor would see an extension to form the restaurant, and part of second floor/roof space to form additional B&B rooms.

The Pop-Inn cafe would be converted from a soft play area to a restaurant, with seating for 168 in the main dining area and further seating for 56 in the proposed roof terrace.

The development also includes provisions for the creation of five bedrooms with en-suites on the upper floor.

Mr Underwood said the thought of transforming the building has been on his mind for some time, but the pandemic helped make up his mind.

“The play area is no longer a novelty, they are a bad weather attraction and unfortunately the demographic of the area has changed tremendously, there are not the children in the area that there used to be,” he said.

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"Unfortunately, the pandemic did not help the situation, especially with Playland. It crystallised my thought that we needed to do something different.

“Playland has been bumping along for a number of years, it needs something done to it.”

He once owned four soft play areas across the country, including in the Trafford Centre in Manchester, and Funkys in Norwich.

The restaurant also harks back to the company's roots, as his parents' first business in Wells was the Pop Inn Cafe.

Pop Inn Leisure in Wells-next-the-Sea.

Pop Inn Leisure in Wells-next-the-Sea. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

He also said that creating employment in the town is important, with hopes to provide 25 to 30 jobs with the development.

The site has received no objections from either Highways, Wells Town Council or Norfolk Coast Partnership. The council did raise concern around the lack of parking, light pollution and the possible impact of such a large restaurant on existing businesses.

If you wish to comment, you can by going to the NNDC planning portal and searching for reference PF/21/2669.

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