AN application for a retail outlet to move into a former bowling alley has been approved.
Councillors from Fareham Borough Council gave permission for a Matalan to be built at the Go Bowling site, off Newgate Lane.
More than 200 people submitted objection letters against the application, but chairman of the planning committee Cllr Nick Walker said there was no reason for the council to reject the plan.
‘Although there was a lot of public protest about the loss of the bowling alley, that is not something we could have an effect on,’ he said.
‘The comment I made in the meeting was that people should use it or lose it.’
As previously reported in The News, a campaign was set up to save the bowling alley, at Collingwood Retail Park, from closure.
The comment I made in the meeting was people should use it or lose it.Cllr Nick Walker
Groups who used the site regularly wanted to see another leisure company take over, but the unit was closed in May after there was no interest.
Site owner Eskmuir Securities Ltd said in its application that Go Bowling had been ‘trading uneconomically since at least 2008’.
The facility was the only one in the Gosport and Fareham area, with the nearest alley at Gunwharf Quays.
Dan Statham, who set up the Save Fareham Go Bowling Facebook page, said that some clubs were able to re-locate to alleys in Chichester and Eastleigh since the closure.
At the meeting, members of the committee had concerns on the impact the new store would have on Fareham town centre.
But figures provided by Matalan showed it would have a minimal effect on existing shops.
Cllr Walker added: ‘After looking in detail at the plan, we decided the store would have a negligible affect on the town centre.’
In the report, it said Matalan had looked to move into the former JJB Sports unit on West Street but it was not big enough. People who objected suggested that the town centre would be more appropriate as Matalan fits in with other shops.
But Cllr Walker said having a retail unit in a retail park made sense.
Other issues raised concerned parking. There were fears there would not be enough spaces, but a spokesman from Matalan said it had use of an overflow car park nearby and adequate signage would be put up to direct people.