By Local Democracy Reporter Scheme
LAKESIDE’S two-storey upside down house is to get another two years at the shopping centre as focus continues to shift from retail to leisure.
Thurrock Council’s planning team has granted permission for the upside down house, located opposite the House of Fraser clothing store, to extend its temporary licence by another two years.
Planning documents describe it as a “zero-gravity illusion experience” in the form of “a fully furnished upside-down house”, furnished to be unique to the location.
When it opened in 2019, it was only the second leisure centre of its kind but since then the owners describe it as an “unrivalled” success which has attracted 19,000 visitors. It has also led to more upside down houses opening in Brighton, Manchester and Bristol.
Outside of remaining at Lakeside for the extra two years, the company does not intend to make any changes to the house or its opening hours.
Permission to continue its stay comes as shopping centres turn their focus to increasing leisure attractions to make up for the declining retail market.
Lakeside has already introduced a £72 million leisure extension along with new climbing wall, bowling alley, Nickelodeon-themed adventure centre and inflatable obstacle course.
After opening the new leisure area, the chief executive of Lakeside owner Intu, Matthew Roberts, said: “Compelling leisure experiences are well-recognised drivers of shopping centre footfall and dwell time and a project of this scale is a real first for the UK market.”
An additional planning application has been submitted to the council for a £168 million refurbishment that will provide space for 30 to 40 new stores and transform it into “regional town centre”.
This will mean partly demolishing the existing Debenhams store and Lakeside’s bus station.