hastings soft play centre completed


When Lee Ballancore, owner of Summerfield Gymnastics in Hastings, East Sussex got in touch to discuss adapting part of his gymnastics centre into a children’s play space, we couldn’t wait to get started.

The House of Play design team has worked closely with Lee over the course of 3 months or so to transform his business premises from a gymnastics hall that didn’t make the most of the space, to a hybrid gymnastic and play business that caters to more of the family.

Read on below to discover details about the holistic indoor play design and installation service we provided to this family-run Hastings business.

Lets go play current

Excellent Service!

“House of Play have been absolutely superb from the moment we made our enquiry. Nothing was too much trouble and helped us in every conceivable way. We couldn’t recommend them enough.”

Lee Ballancore, Director

The Client’s Vision

The client’s immediate problem was that part of his gymnastic centre was not maximising the potential of the space. Specifically, there were two 5×6 metre trampoline pits on one half of the hall, which could only accommodate two active participants safely at one time.

To get a better idea, here is an image of the gymnastics hall before we got to work.

Summerfield Gymnastics, Hastings

But instead of transforming the layout of the gymnastics hall or changing the equipment stocked, he decided to transform the business model. Instead of only offering gymnastics lessons, he decided to change some of his space into an indoor play business for young children. Alongside the soft play area would be a seating area for parents to watch and Food and Beverage facilities.

Summerfield gymnastics

By installing an indoor play area, the client was able to increase the use of his floor space by an estimated 1000%. He could cater to more of the family – increasing the target market – and even create links between the two aspects of the business, which we were able to assist with in the design process.

Our Holistic Service

The process of transforming Lee’s space started with an enquiry and discussions about what he could expect. We provided a detailed explanation of how his vision could be achieved and what would be required. This involved online meetings and face-to-face discussions. As with any of our clients, we are always on hand to answer questions throughout any stage of the process.

We are proud to go the extra mile for clients by assisting with business plans, suppliers, financiers and building regulations. However, Lee did not require our support in these areas due to the nature of the project and his own preferences.

We used profiling of the building to create a 3D and 2D blueprint of how the equipment could be installed and situated. But we had to consider the building as a whole and how users of both businesses would flow throughout the building. The primary goal here was to keep the space open and together, while also separating it for the respective users.

Here is the final 2D plan that the client approved:


2D Floorplan For The Soft Play Equipment Addition

Although this plan may look simple, it has considered the profile of the building to the finest detail along with building and safety regulations. This has been achieved with industry-leading software and our experienced design professionals to avoid costly mistakes.

The plan also enables the client’s vision without drastic changes to the premises. Only minor changes to walls were needed, which also kept costs down.

Once the layout was agreed, we then moved onto the 3D design using the 2D plan as a guide. We worked hand in hand with Lee to maximise the design in terms of dimensions and content to ensure repeat visits. Our design incorporated a sectional theming solution to create 3  different themes to cater for a wider audience and really put the kids imagination into overdrive!

Once everything was signed off, we then supplied and installed all of the play equipment needed to complete the new business. But completing the build is not where our work ended. We’re also on hand to provide ongoing business process support and maintenance services when required.

We even offer some direction with website design for these types of businesses, but as Lee was already knowledgeable in this area, our input was minimal.

You can see the excellent website dedicated to Let’s Go Play by clicking here!

We are proud to offer a soft play design service that always goes the extra mile. And it makes our clients happy too. When we asked Lee for feedback on our service, he said,

House of Play have been absolutely superb from the moment we made our enquiry. Nothing was too much trouble and helped us in every conceivable way

The Challenges

No soft play design service comes without its challenges and this project threw up a few problems we needed to overcome – and some tweaks to make it more profitable.

The main issue arose from utilising the existing pits and incorporating this into the design from a functional perspective. Clearly this wasn’t an insurmountable issue for our experienced design team who cleverly developed a bespoke design to incorporate the pits allowing transition from the floor level to the play area seamlessly. 

Increasing the number of children and adults using the space meant that some of the existing facilities were no longer appropriate. For example, there were not enough toilets to cater to the increased capacity, so we needed to redesign other aspects of the building to accommodate our changes.

We always look at the bigger picture away from ball pools and slides!

Another issue was to create two businesses in one space that complemented each other while remaining entirely separate. We didn’t want to create a situation where someone could pay for one of the experiences but then crossover into the other under the radar.

Closing them off from each other completely was not an option, so we kept the space open with separate doors and a waist-height barrier. The waist high barrier between the spaces was a clever marketing move. It was a way to market the other business to parents and siblings when attending one of the businesses.

You get a good idea of what we are referring to in this image:


The end result

Summerfield Gymnastics has been enhanced with a new soft play area and is one of the few venues of its kind in the UK, putting Hastings on the map, and turning Summerfields Gymnastics and Lets Go Play into a destination venue.

We are thrilled to have worked on this unique and fun project and do not doubt that Lee has made a smart choice to maximise business potential and growth.

At the time of writing, Let’s Go Play has yet to be revealed to the public due to COVID restrictions, and so the full impact of the redevelopment is yet to be fully experienced. 

But we can’t wait to see smiling faces using the play equipment soon!

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