Meet Gillingham’s new Space Inflaters

Date:

Alan Waistell is Director of Leisure, working on behalf of Gillingham Community Leisure Trust (GCLT). This month he spoke to Courtenay Hitchcock about what’s happening with their new Space Inflaters venue
The old Legends Nightclub looks very different inside now, as the Trust waits for the inflatables to arrive from China

If you prefer to listen, you can hear the full interview hear:

Or you can read below the interview that featured in the June issue of the BV:

How did the project start?
“About 12 months ago – it was born out of Gillingham’s Riversmeet Leisure Centre. Like the rest of the leisure industry, we suffered during covid and we had to seriously re-think our direction. We knew that inflatable fun is always popular, and worked out the old Legends Nightclub building was standing empty. We spoke to Dextra, the property owners, about developing it; we wanted something new and different for children and adults in Gillingham.”

How have things progressed?
“It’s like any crazy idea – it grows with a life of its own! We started last July, and the Trust talked through what was affordable, and what was needed from stakeholders. Work actually started in September 2021, and today we’re 90 per cent complete inside (see image above).
The only concern is the inflatable units are coming from China – no one makes them in this country. In an ideal world we’ll open on Sat 23rd July – but we’re just waiting for those inflatables. Right now we’re teetering on a ‘when will it arrive’ tightrope!”

Where did the funding come from?
“The building, the inflatables and the new areas were all financed by stakeholders; big business individuals within the Gillingham area. GCLT have taken responsibility for the day-to-day management.

What will the venue offer?
“Well obviously there’s a HUGE inflatable unit! Plus an interactive wall, and lots of other areas to play with. There’ll be a 2.5 metre ‘death drop’ where you fall into a black hole (that will be closely managed by staff, obviously!), and an under three’s and disabled interactive play area. We’ve also got a café bar – fresh pizzas, jacket potatoes, and themed food for adults and kids.”

Do you know your planned opening hours yet?
“9.30-7pm Mon-Fri, and weekends 9am-5pm. The plan is for it NOT to become a private party venue. It’s a community resource, and we need it open all hours, so that all families can come at any time. We really want it to be inclusive for all family types as much as possible.”

Do you know entry prices yet?
“We’ll have peak and off peak rates: everything’s still being finalised, but currently off-peak will be Mon-Fri 9am-4pm, and Peak will be 4-7pm weekdays, and weekends 9am-5pm.
At the moment, the entry (including supervising adults) will be £5 per person. Entry for the under three’s play area only will be £3.50 for a 90 minute slot.”

How will it help the community?
“It’s not a profit-making private business. It’s the same community business model as Riversmeet. Our accounts, any surplus we make, will be going straight back to the Gillingham community, to the local people. It will of course be entirely transparent. We can help local user groups, and assist in preserving Riversmeet going forwards.”

Will there be inclusive access?
“Absolutely – the entire business plan revolves around inclusion. We’re trying to look at every single user group that may wish to come. There’ll be a carer’s package, one for childminders, disabled and low-income family sessions will be discounted during the week … We’re trying to cater for as many as we can.”

And the five year plan?
“In an ideal world we’ll be wildly successful, and then open other activities for adults and children in the Gillingham area. Our whole purpose is to help the local community. The town will clearly be growing considerably in the next few years, and we should be looking at all our leisure facilities, ensuring we’re self-sufficient and not a burden on the tax payer (not that Riversmeet gets assistance!). It’s about how we run the whole leisure side of Gillingham to serve the needs of the local people.”

2 COMMENTS

    • Hi Lynda

      If you look in the latest edition of the BV (July edition) you will see an article all about it and an advert telling you about opening dates/times etc.

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