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Escape room plan given green light

By Sean Axtell

An escape room will be the latest addition to Kent's growing array of unusual attractions.

A former car showroom at the Shakespeare Centre in Sandgate Road, Folkestone, will be developed into a room packed with puzzles and clues leading visitors to freedom against the clock.

Shepway District Council (SDC) this month gave the nod for unit two at the centre to be transformed into 168 sq m space, open seven days a week. Existing businesses at the centre will not be affected.

Shakespeare Centre - the new site for Kent's latest escape room
Shakespeare Centre - the new site for Kent's latest escape room

Breaking out across Europe since 2010, escape rooms typically involve physical puzzles and riddle games for guests to solve in small teams, in a series of games similar to the popular Channel 4 show Crystal Maze.

The applicant, listed as Mr Hart on SDC’s planning portal, must abide by a series of conditions to get the scheme off the ground.

Development must begin within three years, and Mr Hart must comply entirely with the original blueprints and proposed opening times and ensure the premises isn’t used for any other business.

It is unclear how many jobs will be created.

In his design and access statement, Mr Hart said: “The unit consists of the ground floor and basement areas. It is part of a five unit building with an office unit above.

“This property has a well-preserved front facade.

“The property was originally built as a vehicle showroom but was converted to five retail units and an above office space in 1984.”

The latest development will be in direct competition with Escape60’s exit room based in Town Walk.

Containing two rooms, within 60 minutes visitors must escape either a serial killer’s lair or zombie apocalypse.

Since opening last year it has attracted positive reviews on the website TripAdvisor, scoring five out of five from 25 reviews.

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