A petition has been launched in a bid to bring tenpin bowling back to Burton after proposals to turn a site which included the town's old Superbowl into housing were unveiled.

Calls for there to be more leisure facilities, including a tenpin bowling venue, were made after the plans were submitted to build 140 homes and two shops on the Bargates site, off High Street.

Jessup Build Development has applied to East Staffordshire Borough Council for permission to develop the seven-acre site which sits between High Street and the River Trent, near the Meadowside Leisure Centre.

However, the the proposals have sparked criticism among residents who want to see leisure facilities built there.

New masterplan shows the location of the Meadowside Leisure Centre car parks

Kim Smith, a centre coordinator for Winshill Neighbourhood Resource Centre, has now set up an online petition entitled 'Bring the bowling alley back to Burton plus other entertainment facilities', which has attracted more than 60 signatures in just over a week.

The 54-year-old, from Winshill, said: "Bargates has been part of Burton since July 1964 when it was first opened as a shopping complex complete with bowling alley. Over the years the complex changed with the times however one thing remained, the bowling alley. A place where people of all ages could go and enjoy a game of bowling while socialising with friends and family.

The so-called 'green village' will be cleared for the development

"However back in 2007 the bowling alley was [closed, and later] finally knocked down along with the remaining empty shopping complex.

"Since then there has been many proposals for what the land would be used for. A development company has submitted an application to turn the land into more houses.

"As a local who was born in the town and lived here all my life I want to see this land brought back to its former glory; an area which offers all those living in and visiting the town a place offering fun indoor activities and entertainment. Something which the town currently lacks.

"Wouldn't it be great to have an entertainment complex for all to enjoy? Bargates is holding the key to this with so much potential. Bring back the bowling alley or the introduction of an indoor crazy golf facility, climbing walls, maybe a trampoline park - or all of it."

Once completed the petition will then handed to Burton MP Andrew Griffiths for consideration.

The £20 million development headed will include 72 sheltered apartments, 24 private apartments and 44 houses, but has led to criticism from Burton Civic Society which claimed it was "entirely inappropriate" for its "unique riverside location".

In its formal objection to the proposals, the group also noted that the development "includes no leisure or entertainment facilities for the younger generation".

The scheme is set to cost £20 million

When previously asked by the Burton Mail to comment on campaigners' concerns, the firm's managing director Clive Jessup pointed out that the town already has a cinema.

He also noted that there was a bowling green at Meadowside Leisure Centre, which he claimed was "barely used".

The petition can be signed by visiting the website.

Will bowling work in Burton?

Many readers have taken to the Burton Mail’s Facebook page to further hammer home that bowling should come back to Burton.
However, others have claimed that the town’s former bowling alley was often quite empty, and the situation has not changed 10 years after it closed.

Charley Hastelow said on Facebook: "We definitely need something in the town. There is nothing to do in the town. The bowling alley was always busy when we went as children. We need something to keep people in Burton not build more houses and flats. We need an entertainment complex like they have in other towns/cities. Laser quest, bowling alley, a pottery painting shop, and many other things that are huge hits with families and people looking for places to go to have a laugh."

The development planned for Bargates

Franki Alexandra agreed there was little to do in the town. She said: "There is literally nothing to do in Burton. Sinfin’s bowling alley is incredibly popular, as was Superbowl before it closed and the people of Burton have been calling for entertainment venues for years. Every vacant piece of land gets houses crammed onto it, meaning more and more traffic clogging up the already shambolic roads. Two things Burton’s people desperately want; better roads and more entertainment venues. Our town might as well be a gigantic housing estate."

Sandra Ryde said if we are to have entertainment it must be at a reasonable price. She said: "Give kids something to do. There is nothing. It would bring Burton up to the standard it should be and also give people jobs. Times are changing. I am sick of restaurants and coffee shops. Let's get some life back into Burton but at reasonable prices."

However, Laura Rankin-Smith said it wasn’t just children that had little to do, it was older people too.

Bargates was flattened in 2012 and turned into a 'village green'

She said: "It’s not just about kids - what about adults? If you're an adult in Burton you can drink, shop or watch a film. That's really about it. If you want to meet up with your friends and do something social it's mainly food or drink."

However, other readers have said the bowling alley was often quiet and would not succeed now.

Paul Harrison said: "The place was never busy way before it closed."

Andy Perks, agreed, saying: "Why bother with another bowling alley? The one before wasn't that great. I guarantee once the novelty wears off nobody other than diehards will bother. Give people an ice rink to start with. People will buzz over it but soon lose interest."

Bargates was once the site of a shopping centre and bowling alley

Aftab Bashir said: "How often was Superbowl packed? Very rarely. When something is there, no-one goes. When it's gone everyone's in uproar."

Adrian Branch said a bowling alley would be a waste of money. He said: "Doesn't really make a difference does it? It'll be empty in a year or two anyway. You might as well chuck the money in the bin. In the rapidly evolving ghost town of Burton it would seem most things fail within a year, and bowling has had its day it would seem. There would be even less appeal for ice skating."

Mark Beresford also said a sports complex or concert venue may work on Bargates. He said: "They have had bowling and skating at Bargates in the past and neither were over popular. Start afresh with a good modern sports/entertainment venue. Something that can double up as a concert venue and a sports complex would be perfect."

Time Line

Burton's Bargates

  1. MARCH 2004

    Council admits the Riverside Leisure Centre, known as Bargates, had become an embarrassment with just a few units open, including Superbowl 200 which still had 14 years on its lease and had 'no desire to move'.

  2. SEPTEMBER 2004

    The council reveals a cafe quarter plan for Bargates with accommodation, bars, cafe and a hotel.

  3. MAY 2005

    The Mail exclusively reveals that the council has lined up a deal with Tesco, which would see Bargates turned into a giant Tesco Extra store. The deal in principle included Tesco paying the council £8 million towards the cost of a new leisure centre to replace the Meadowside, which would have been demolished under the plans.

  4. AUGUST 2007

    One of the last remaining units on Riverside, Indian restaurant Manzil, moves to the former Ocean nightclub, off Guild Street, where it remains to this day.

  5. AUGUST 19, 2007

    Superbowl 2000 closes to make way for the Tesco development. At the time Superbowl owner Jerry Hodges said he was keen to relocate and was looking for a site in Burton.

  6. DECEMBER 2007

    The council pulls out of a deal with Tesco to demolish the neighbouring Meadownside Leisure Centre due to sky-rocketing costs. An application for the Riverside Centre is still expected to be submitted.

  7. FEBRUARY 2008

    Arsonists strike at former Superbowl 2000.

  8. NOVEMBER 2008

    A Tesco plan to build nine glass-fronted retail units on the site is unanimously rejected by council planners after the scheme is branded as "unimaginative".

  9. DECEMBER 1, 2009

    Three options are listed for Bargates' future: a residential-led redevelopment, a retail-led redevelopment or a mixture of both.

  10. MAY 30, 2010

    Tesco indicates a willingness to relinquish the site and move to the former Condor site, which never came to fruition. Proposals are put forward for a mix of retail, office and residential buildings, including a hotel overlooking the River Trent.

  11. JUNE 3, 2010

    Tesco installs large wooden boards to screen the eyesore from public view.

  12. JUNE 15, 2010

    East Staffordshire Borough Council announces its intention to appoint a developer by the end of 2010.

  13. SEPTEMBER 21, 2010

    Tesco's board of directors agrees the sale of the site to East Staffordshire Borough Council for £4 million.

  14. APRIL 12, 2011

    Meanwhile, Tesco is given permission for a superstore in Hawkins Lane. This plan never came to fruition after financial difficulties led Tesco to put the site up for sale.

  15. FEBRUARY 2, 2012

    Demolition begins at the Bargates site.

  16. MAY 28, 2012

    The council announces Bargates will be turned into a 'village green'.

  17. JULY 4 2012

    The council puts up 'The Bargates Job' on the site.

  18. FEBRUARY 21, 2013

    The council announces it has full ownership of Bargates and it is up for sale – maintaining the preferred mixed use option in a bid to attract developers.

  19. JULY 15, 2014

    Councillors reveal plans to spend part of a £1.5 million grant on making Bargates more attractive. It came after work started to improve the appearance of shops opposite, to show the authority was keen to regenerate High Street.

  20. MAY 2015

    Councillor Richard Grosvenor, leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council, said the authority was hoping to work in partnership with other agencies to bring sheltered housing to the site.

  21. JANUARY 2016

    A major developer is in talks to buy Bargates but discussions break down in March.

  22. AUGUST 2016

    Contractors were spotted drilling on the site to ascertain the site's development costs.

  23. SEPTEMBER 2016

    It is revealed a deal has been struck for offices and extra-care facilities on Bargates.

  24. AUGUST 2017

    Developer Jessup Build Develop reveals a planning application could be submitted in September.

  25. December 2017

    Jessup Build Develop submit planning application to East Staffordshire Borough Council

  26. January 2018

    Jessup Build Develop hold public consultation at Meadowside Leisure Centre. Burton Civic Society formally objects to the proposals

  27. February 2018

    The consultation period ends and objections submitted by Burton Parish Council and Burton Bridge Brewery are revealed.