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Nando's expansion in former Dickens World site approved

A popular Nando's restaurant is due to be extended after councillors approved plans to transform the former Dickens World site next door.

Two brand-new activity centres are coming to Chatham Maritime after proposals to transform the ex-tourist attraction were given the go-ahead.

It will be taken over by Gymfinity, which provides gymnastic facilities for children, and adventure golf company Mighty Claws.

Nando's next to the old Dickens World site is due to expand
Nando's next to the old Dickens World site is due to expand

Applicant Schroder UK Real Estate Fund says at least 52 new jobs will be created at the premises, which has stood empty since the end of 2016.

Members of Medway Council’s planning committee unanimously supported the application last night.

Cllr Martin Potter (Con) said: “I think all the uses will be an excellent provision locally.

“I’ve got some experience of a crazy golf site. When we were in Las Vegas, I went to a KISS-themed (rock band) crazy golf, which was very good. There’s a market, and it will be popular.

“I did have concerns about the gymnastics being there, and that it would be too similar to what they’ve got at the nearby trampolining centre. But we had a presentation, and they assured us it wouldn’t be.”

Mighty Claws is a dinosaur-themed operator, with its centres in Colchester and Bournemouth both having a bespoke theme. It is intended the Chatham business will be based around the Victorian era.

Dickens World closed in 2016
Dickens World closed in 2016

The attraction will have a “Victorian dinosaur exhibit”, two indoor adventure golf courses, destination bar and dining, a course-side bar, and bookable party areas.”

Meanwhile, Gymfinity will provide gymnastics facilities and classes for children up to the age of 16. The offering promises to include a “ninja zone” and holiday camps.

Nando’s will make use of part of the old Dickens World site by building a first-floor extension for toilet facilities and seating, allowing space to be freed up on the ground floor for more customers.

The applicant had to prove there were no appropriate buildings for the proposals in Chatham town centre – a test which it passed, according to head of planning Dave Harris.

Cllr Diane Chambers (Con), committee chairman, added: “Nobody wants an empty building. It’s a huge space, and I think it’s something that will be very popular.”

As part of the planning conditions, the applicant must put in place measures to encourage customers to use the multi-storey car park at the Dockside Shopping Outlet.

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