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Jobs hope after discount store bid

PUBLISHED: 10:06 08 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:15 14 July 2010

A dozen new jobs could be created in Wymondham after plans were submitted to turn a children's play centre in Wymondham into a discount department store.

The owners of an indoor play centre in Wymondham have pledged to stay in the town, despite their landlord submitting plans to turn it into a budget department store.

Darren and Elena Butler formed the Funtime Factory in 2001 at a large warehouse on the edge of the town centre.

But the couple were surprised to learn last week that their landlord had applied to South Norfolk Council to turn the building in Ayton Road into a retail premises.

The owner of the warehouse, Peter Colby Commercials, of Wymondham, submitted the application on behalf of national retailer the Original Factory Shop.

The proposals come as Mr and Mrs Butler's lease on the property is set to expire in October.

But the couple this week said they had no intention of shutting the Funtime Factory and were currently negotiating with the landlord to either get a new tenancy or move to a new location on its 10th anniversary.

Mr Butler added that they were “100pc” committed to keeping the children's play centre in Wymondham.

“We were unaware of the planning application and have no intentions of closing.

“However after nearly 10 years and looking into the future, we are considering relocation to a nearby more suitable site at the end of our current lease on Ayton Road.”

“We hope that the negotiations with our current landlord Peter Colby would be positive and allow Funtime Factory to move, securing the future for our 11 staff and continuing with the play and party facility, which has been so well supported over the last nine years,” he said.

The change of use application by Peter Colby Commercials could pave the way for the Original Factory Shop moving in, which could employ up to 15 people.

The growing retailer already has stores in Bungay, Bury St Edmunds, Brandon, Dereham and Harleston and is set to open a shop in Downham Market. The applicant adds that the Original Factory Shop would help improve the retail offer and retain shoppers in the market town.

Residents have until January 25 to comment on the proposals.

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