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Big Fun House in Chartham, Canterbury, set to reopen

A hugely popular soft play centre has announced it is set to reopen - sparking widespread joy.

Bosses at Big Fun House in Chartham, near Canterbury, took the difficult decision to close the site permanently last July, to the dismay of long-time supporters.

Big Fun House in Chartham. Picture: Big Fun House/Facebook
Big Fun House in Chartham. Picture: Big Fun House/Facebook

At the time, it was not clear when soft play centres would be allowed to reopen.

Having been forced to shut at the start of the pandemic, bosses said social distancing for young children would be "pretty much impossible" even once lockdown rules were lifted.

Big Fun House featured a huge range of attractions for youngsters - from slides, climbing areas and ball pits, to a soft football pitch, an outdoor go-kart track, and "kids kitchen" where little ones could pretend to be chefs.

Its closure sparked heartbreak from parents who enjoyed taking their children to the centre.

But the firm has this evening made the surprise announcement that it will be reopening in the near future, under the ownership of soft play firm Under 1 Roof Group.

A post on Big Fun House's Facebook page says: "Having been in negotiations over the past few months we are delighted to announce that the Under 1 Roof Group have taken over the Big Fun House site, meaning soft play will return to Canterbury!"

They added a message from Under 1 Roof, which already runs soft play centres in Pysons Road, Ramsgate, and in Greenwich Woolwich, south-east London.

The firm said: "We are so thrilled to be taking on the former Big Fun House site and can't wait to regenerate the centre and continue providing Canterbury with a much loved soft play and nursery.

"After the tough year we've all had, we can't wait to re-open and start our new journey in Canterbury.".

The news has been met with delight from hundreds of parents.

One said: "I am so glad - our son loves it here and many weekends were spent here!"

"This is great news, a fantastic community facility resurrected," said another commenter, while one mum said: "This is brilliant - can’t wait to bring my lockdown baby here."

As well as the soft play centre, Under 1 Roof will be taking over Big Fun House's on-site Snowflakes Day Nursery.

Further details, including the date of site's grand reopening, are set to be announced on Big Fun House's Facebook page.

It has been a tough year for soft play centres. Six were forced to close in Aylesford, where the owner of Adventure Kidz called for greater financial support for the industry and predicted further casualties if extra help was not given.

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