SPECIAL REPORT: Full swing ahead for Gloucester's old Primark
By Simon Hacker | 16th November 2023
A literally head-turning entertainment proposition is coming to Gloucester with the news that Putt Putt Noodle will be opening at the prime retail spot formerly occupied by Primark.
Under the banner of "Epic Asian Themed Adventure Golf", the expanding company, which already has outlets in Telford, Poole and Norwich, intends to add the hybrid experience of Asian food and miniature golf to 53 Eastgate Street – with Gloucester City Council revealing that refurbishment has now begun at the address.
Putt Putt Noddle is scheduled to open early next year after the We Do Play group (WDP) decided to add the location to its growing UK map. Current off-peak pricing at the company's nearest (Telford) venue start at £7 for an individual ticket and £22 for a family deal, while food menu appetisers are charged from £3 and main dishes begin at £9.
With or without noodles, miniature golf is certainly a spicy commercial trend: according to a recent Guardian interview with the UK's Crazy Golf Museum, there were around 600 minigolf venues back in 2006, but that figure has since doubled, while 320 venues opening since May 2020.
And as conventional retail business struggles to balance the costs of high-street occupation, a forecast from the Local Government Association issued last year suggested "resilient high streets are experiential destinations and should offer users experiences that go beyond purely retail or functional-oriented activities."
Dorian Wragg, Commercial Partner with Bruton Knowles, said the move is "bang on" for Gloucester.
He said: "Gloucester's top story in retail is all about creating a sense of destination now. It's about finding something that gets the kids in town. We can only have so many coffee shops and, to be honest, the high street has been bland for years as a concept. Cheltenham is already onto this trend and in Bristol we have just seen activity on three bowling alley projects for the city centre – both Cheltenham and Gloucester are seeing this and it's fantastic news that they're adapting to trends."
Gloucester's adventure golf complex will boast 18 holes across two courses, each themed with different aspects of Asian culture from cherry blossoms and crouching tigers to hidden dragons.
GCC said: "Golfers who work up an appetite can order from an extensive menu of sushi and noodle dishes, alongside craft beers and elaborate cocktails."
The venue will also be available to hire for parties and corporate events while, additional to the golf offering, the complex will house further immersive entertainment options yet to be announced. Some 30 part-time and 10 full-time jobs will be created by the new business and WDP concept officer Richard Beese said Gloucester will join a growing high street trend.
Mr Beese added: "We believe the Putt Putt Noodle concept is perfect for the centre of Gloucester. Leisure and entertainment blends are changing the retail landscape across the UK and there's definitely a gap that needs to be filled. The city's regeneration scheme here is very exciting and we're delighted to be involved."
Building on the back of the city's £200m regeneration program, Cllr Hannah Norman, GCC Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resource at Gloucester City Council, said the move from WDP was proof of the city's momentum and growth.
Cllr Norman added: "We're also looking forward to a number of other leading names following their lead as our city continues to attract new investment building on the back of the huge regeneration that is currently transforming Gloucester."
Putt Putt Noodle will, said GCC, be the perfect fit for attractions to complement the development of Kings Quarter. Alongside partners Reef Group and the University of Gloucestershire, the council's focus is Kings Square, upgrading of Kings Walk Shopping Centre and the nearby Forum development, which will offer apartments with cathedral views, state-of-the-art digital conference facilities and office space, along with a new boutique hotel boasting restaurants and a rooftop bar.
Peter Langly-Smith, Development Director at Reef Group, added: "I'm thrilled such a fantastic tenant is coming to Gloucester. The high street is reinventing itself and alongside traditional retail, city centres are now offering more leisure experiences to visitors like Putt Putt Noodle. Bringing new tenants like these are integral to our strategy to develop the city centre and alongside The Forum, revamp of the Kings Walk Shopping Centre and Kings Square, will help to create a vibrant and modern city centre."
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