Play cafe planning application approved

The vacant shop in Easington Colliery.
The vacant shop in Easington Colliery.

Plans to transform a vacant shop space into a children’s play cafe have been given the green light by council chiefs.

Last month, applicant Kimberley Welburn lodged a ‘change of use’ bid for an unused shop in Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery.

The qualified teacher – who has 13 years of early learning experience – aimed to launch a hub for child-friendly facilities, events and refreshments.

After the plans were approved by the council’s planning department last week, the former shop will now reopen as the ‘Oopsy DownTown Play Cafe’.

Mrs Welburn, reacting to the decision, said she was “over the moon” and couldn’t wait to get started on the project.

A business proposal, submitted to Durham County Council, states the cafe will function as both a play space and setting for adults to “recharge their batteries, relax and socialise”.

It reads: “From studying similar projects in other areas I have found that clientele will come from outside the immediate area in order to use well-prepared and exciting facilities and this could bring trade to other businesses in Easington.

“I believe that providing an interesting and ever-changing environment for children to explore is an ideal way to develop their curiosity, provide opportunities for them to ask questions, and to talk about things they have discovered.”

The play cafe will open between  9.30am-3.30pm, Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm on Saturdays and can be hired out for birthday parties/functions on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Other plans include a Ofsted-registered after-school club for children aged three to 10 from 3.30pm-6.30pm, Monday to Friday and sensory and music sessions for under-threes.

Mrs Welburn added: “We wanted to do something in a smaller village as everything seems to be going into the city.

“More and more I’m hearing from several mums that there’s not much out there for them.

“We want to do something for the children.”

Following refurbishment works, the business is set to open in January 2019.

To find out more, visit: publicaccess.durham.gov.uk/online-applications and search planning ref: DM/18/03001/FPA

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service