St Albans trampoline park's attempt to extend opening hours upsets residents
PUBLISHED: 12:59 17 October 2016 | UPDATED: 12:59 17 October 2016
Danny Loo Photography 2016
A new trampoline park's neighbours are hopping mad again after the owners applied to extend the hours of operation just weeks after opening.
Gravity Force launched from Alban Park, Hatfield Road in St Albans on August 17, with over 60 interconnected trampolines of all shapes and sizes to enable visitors to literally bounce off the walls.
Then, on September 2, St Albans district council received an application to vary a planning condition to enable the activity centre to open half an hour earlier, seven days a week.
At present customers are able to visit between 10am and 9pm Mondays to Thursdays, from 9am until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and between 9am and 9pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Gravity Force wants to open 30 minutes earlier, every day of the week, to allow for safety briefings ahead of the first jump session.
Apparently when the firm originally gained approval to open the indoor trampoline park inside a former industrial unit, it had assumed that although activity could not officially begin until 10am, it could open half an hour earlier to give visitors a 30-minute safety briefing.
However, after discussions with the council, it realised that the hours stated in the approval encompassed the total time visitors could spend in the building.
But this reasoning has been slated by some locals who have objected to the proposed change.
One resident pointed out that, as the go-ahead for the unit’s conversion had been given after a successful planning appeal, he thought that the inspector’s decision on opening hours “were then set in stone”.
He added: “Any misunderstanding on opening hours are solely in Gravity Force’s court by being economical with the facts. No one other than Gravity Force was aware of a 30-minute briefing before jump sessions begin.
“I have to say I, and a number of other residents, have no faith in this company obeying any planning consents that have been issued; we just think they do their own thing and are not bothered about their neighbours.”
One man called for the application to be turned down, adding that the firm had shown an “arrogant disregard to existing hours [and a] total lack of respect for planning conditions and their neighbours”.
Locals living nearby had previously fought against the proposed change of use to a trampoline park with 105 parking spaces.
Ward councillor Chris Brazier said that he had been contacted by residents from Cranbrook Drive, behind the premises, who had voiced concerns about increased noise.
He questioned the need to extend opening hours when online bookings showed that the park was far busier at the weekend than between Monday and Thursday.
Cllr Brazier added: “People are annoyed that they are changing hours when they have only been open a couple of months.”
Richard Simpson, marketing director of Gravity Force, said the morning sessions were “key” ones, and that opening half an hour earlier would benefit those with younger children.
He added: “Last Friday we had over 100 toddlers turning up for a session in the morning - a lot of people just turn up. We aren’t trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes but there was a difference of opinion over the opening hours.”
Richard said that in an effort to appease neighbours, the firm now has background music in its café only, rather than in the main trampoline area, to reduce noise.
Consultation on the scheme ended on Wednesday, October 5, with a decision pending.