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Footie fun plan for factory

PUBLISHED: 18:17 01 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:59 03 July 2010

A former card-board box factory is being repackaged as a £300,000 family entertain-ment and soft indoor play area with a focus on football.

Businessman Kevan Whitbread just needs the go-ahead from planners to kick off his plans at the former Merlin Packaging site on the Harfrey's Industrial Estate, which he says will boost local facilities with a range of indoor pitches.

A former card-board box factory is being repackaged as a £300,000 family entertain-ment and soft indoor play area with a focus on football.

Businessman Kevan Whitbread just needs the go-ahead from planners to kick off his plans at the former Merlin Packaging site on the Harfrey's Industrial Estate, which he says will boost local facilities with a range of indoor pitches.

Using the same surfaces as top premier clubs he aims to build leagues for little ones who have nowhere of equal quality to play.

Mr Whitbread, 40, managing director of Inkbox, said his own experience of finding activities for his two children, now 12 and eight, and years of waiting in draughty corridors while they had a game, triggered the idea and convinced him there was an opportunity.

Under the scheme, 25,000sq ft will be transformed into a lounge area separated from a jungle-themed soft play area, party room and two indoor football pitches - one for mini soccer and another larger one.

He said he aimed to serve quality food which would not interfere with anyone selling bacon butties and burgers to people on the estate.

He added there were 1,300 football teams in and around the area, a large proportion of which would welcome the chance to play indoors on the latest surfaces.

“We would like to run leagues of our own and so far it has all been received very positively. We are not going to be expensive and we are not going to affect people already selling burgers and rolls,” he said.

Having secured the trading name Yo Football, he aims to open by August 1. “The best of everything is going in there,” he added.

“The whole thing is very family and community based.”

Merlin Packaging shut in June last year after 54 years in business. It was the first business to open on the estate in 1975, but had been in the town under various owners since 1953. It had been trading as Mondi but was taken over by Merlin shortly before it closed with the loss of around 30 jobs. It manufactured corrugated cardboard cartons and boxes for industry.


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