Mariner Centre to be turned into a giant play area

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A major investment in the Camelon Mariner Centre is planned.

Falkirk Community Trust who run the complex for Falkirk Council want to create a giant family-friendly soft play area in the 25-year-old complex.

Full details of the ambitious scheme, which could cost £1 million, have not been revealed - but The Falkirk Herald understands the Trust has made a strong case for it to go ahead.

Bosses argue the layout and facilities at the venue no longer meet the needs of customers - and believe the idea has the potential to increase its appeal and deliver an exciting new experience for kids in a state-of-the-art attraction mums and dads will be happy to see them use.

A closed-doors meeting of the Executive last week agreed to the Trust’s plan, but it is thought further talks between the sides over how the project will be funded - and the potential financial risks - will continue.

Trust chief executive Maureen Campbell said: “Falkirk Council has given landlords consent for an interesting development proposal at the Mariner Centre.

“This will now go to the Falkirk Community Trust board of directors for discussion on May 19 and we will hopefully have more news after that.

“The Trust recognises the value of the Mariner Centre for families in the Falkirk area and we are keen to develop this for the future.”

The sports hall on the ground floor of the centre has been earmarked for the new multi-storey soft play attraction.

It will be remodelled to include its own entrance, reception area, cafe and toilets, be easily accessible, light and secure and family friendly with plenty of room for parents to supervise their kids.

The Trust says it wants to put an underused space to better use by opening it up for soft play which is growing in popularity.

The Mariner is seen as a key asset by the trust.

Last year, following significant investment in its heating and ventilation plant, £160,000 was spent upgrading the wave machine and the result has been more customers and increased income.

Later this month creative water play equipment including waterballs, handwheels and toddler slides will be installed for youngsters to enjoy.

At the same time, a new floor and furniture is being delivered to up-grade the cafe area.

It has been argued these improvements have made it a viable ‘wet weather’ alternative to visitors who may have initially been intending to visit the Kelpies or Falkirk Wheel and adding the soft play feature could make it a suitable destination for an ‘all day’ visit.

Councillors have also been told soft play appeals to families with young children and gives Falkirk Community Trust the chance to introduce them at an early age to another activity that will help develop their physical and social skills, build their confidence and encourage them as they get older to stay more active more often.

The Falkirk Herald has been told the Trust’s business case for introducing soft play to the Mariner has “significant merit” and shows there is a demand for such a facility.

It also offers the potential for the Trust to earn additional income to offset the cost of running the building and providing the other activities within it.

In a climate of tight budget restrictions, the Trust remains under pressure to be more self-sustaining to protect its ability to deliver much valued services to the community.