Residents welcome bowling alley 'the town really needs'
EXMOUTH'S high-profile, long-awaited bowling alley complex has welcomed its first visitors – five years after building work began.
The 12-lane bowling alley and café-bar, located on the ground floor of the three-storey complex, opened on Thursday, December 27. The café opened for a few hours on Boxing Day.
The complex is being managed by Isaac Robb, one of the UK's top chefs, and his wife Grainne. They have taken on the establishment as directors from the developer behind the project, Mark Quinn of Harlequins Leisure.
As previously reported by the Echo, Mr Quinn was served legal notice by East Devon District Council to complete the multi-million pound building within two months, by January 13, or face handing it back to the authority.
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The council took action to speed up completion of the building, furthering its regeneration agenda for the town and seafront.
The authority previously confirmed that the building needed to reach "practical completion" by the date.
Work on the eco-friendly complex began in February 2008. A number of setbacks have hit the construction process since it began, with the project coming to a year-long standstill in 2010. Work finally resumed in April 2011. Mr Quinn previously said a confidentiality agreement prevented him from confirming the reasons for the delay.
It is understood the council signed off the building as complete and fit to open just before Christmas.
Work on the second and third floors, which will house a huge indoor children's play zone, restaurant and function rooms, is continuing. Grainne, added: "The last few weeks have been crazy busy and it still is, but it's great to be open. It's been busy since the doors opened which is brilliant.
"Everyone has said really positive things and how much the bowling alley is needed in Exmouth."
Deputy Mayor Cllr Bill Nash who is also the ward member for Littleham and the seafront, said: "A tremendous amount of work has gone on there to get it open since the council imposed the deadline – at last it's open which is good to see.
"It looks very nice, it is very spacious and the directors Isaac and Grainne are a good team."
Louise Carter, 41, from Exmouth went with her parents and two children. "It's great it's finally open," she said. "It looks really nice and I think it will be a real asset to Exmouth."
Michael Lee, 49, also from Exmouth went with his son and three grandchildren. "It's great, it's what Exmouth needs – there's not much for young people to do. It was worth waiting for. The food is really good too, we'll definitely be coming back."