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Nerf zone for Boston - only fourth in country

Boston is to get its own Nerf zone - one of only four children's specialist play areas in the country.

Boston Bowl and Playtowers at Rochford Tower Lane, Boston, is to accommodate the latest craze following  the granting of planning permission by Boston Borough Council.

Nerf is a toy brand and the most popular products are Nerf Blasters - toy plastic guns which shoot Velcro-tipped foam darts to stick to Nerf vests and can be tipped with suction cups to stick to smooth surfaces. The darts fit in magazines, some able to whistle in flight, have colour variations, such as camouflage, colour swap and glow in the dark.

Nerf centres provide children with an opportunity to test their Nerf skills against each other in a dedicated controlled environment with staff providing non-stop activities.

The only other current Nerf facilities are in Matlock Bath, Milton Keynes and Warrington.

Boston Bowl and Playtowers had evaluated the potential for introducing a similar facility to the east coast and found there to be a huge demand.

The owners feel the new Nerf Zone will not only attract a large number of visitors from the local area but will also provide a tourist attraction for the large number of holiday makers visiting the area. Another significant benefit to the proposal is the introduction of a key indoor children's activity within the borough.

Planning permission was granted for extensions and alterations to the existing Boston Bowl and Playtowers facility and includes a climbing wall, new entrance area, toddlers' soft play area and new vehicular access and is planned to be completed in 2017. An application has been made to secure European funding in order to bring this further improved community facility to Boston.

Boston Bowl thanked the council's planning department for its assistance.

Fiona Watts, manager, said: "We are hoping that this will put Boston on the map and provide a great family entertainment centre. We will be creating more jobs and hopefully more footfall through Boston. The planning department was very helpful and made the whole process very easy."

The main reason why the planning process was so smooth can be attributed to pre-application discussions between the owners of Boston Bowl and planning officers at Boston Borough Council. Pre-application discussions are of significant benefit to the applicant by identifying the planning issues and requirements at the earliest possible stage. Pre-application discussions provide greater certainty for applicants and developers about the likely outcome from the planning process. They also help to improve the quality of design, encourage greater public consultation, and enable the council to process subsequent planning applications more quickly. As a result of these discussions, the two main issues regarding the proposed new access and the retention of the important boundary treatments were resolved.

The business will optimise a mezzanine level visible from the ground floor to provide customers with a café facility with balustrade looking over the climbing walls and Nerf zone. The aim of the project is to provide additional floor space connected to the main building, incorporating a replacement feature entrance with a new layout to optimise space but be sympathetic to the existing main building, whilst respecting the neighbouring and adjacent properties.

Playtowers already has a large-scale children's play area for the younger children. When children outgrow this they could be attracted to a climbing wall facility. The second section of the front extension would be allocated to large-scale climbing walls and towers for this purpose.