A POPULAR role play space for children has been forced to close following a noise dispute with neighbours.

Little Play Town in Odiham shut its doors on December 21, leaving its customers disappointed at the loss of the facility which opened in October 2017.

A statement from the owners, husband and wife Clinton and Virna Browne, said they were “deeply saddened” at having to close their business.

They arrived at the venue, in Fountains Mall, just before Christmas to find the locks had been changed and a notice of termination of their lease, sent by the landlord from Hambridge Limited.

The couple were fighting a long-running dispute with neighbours who complained the children using Little Play Town, situated upstairs in the building, made a “constant barrage of thumping, crashing and running”.

Katherine Jane Gift Shop and Fountains Coffee Shop previously said that their customers left as a result of the noise, adding: “We do not hear children happily playing but experience a constant barrage of thumping, crashing and running producing a significant noise and vibration impact to our business below.”

The closure of Little Play Town, which offers children the chance to dress up and role play in a creative space, has resulted in 10 job losses, while Mr and Mrs Browne have lost £85k in savings.

The pair said they had tried unsuccessfully to speak to the landlord to obtain soil samples from under the building to see if the foundation could hold a soundproof floor, to resolve the noise issues.

Hart District Council previously served a noise abatement notice on Little Play Town, following complaints from the businesses below, and had granted an extension to rectify the issues until the end of January.

But Mr and Mrs Browne said the landlord would not agree to opening up the foundation.

The couple, who have two children, said: “Our experience at Fountains Mall in Odiham has been sadly disappointing and a poor reflection on the kind people of Odiham.

“What a shame that the rest of Odiham businesses who have supported us against the complaints will now loose Little Play Town customers.”

They thanked their “loyal customers” for being “the ray of sunshine amongst the stormy weather” and the “many happy children which brought a smile to our saddened faces” adding: “We will miss you all deeply and cherish the time we have spent, and perhaps Little Play Town may live on through the graces of kind hearts”.

Customers who have bought tickets will be given a refund.

Users of the facility took to social media to express their disappointment that the venue has closed.

Elaine Simmonds said: “So sorry to hear this. It was such a wonderful place to bring the kids.”

Sarah Kassem said she was “furious” adding: “I am just speechless that it has come to this and so close to Christmas.”

Loretta Hawkins posted: “This is so sad to hear. Was hoping to visit over the Christmas period to show my husband what an amazing place it was and how happy my little boy was there. You’ve made beautiful memories not just for us but all your customers.”

Aimee Goldsmith said she was “gutted” to hear the news of the closure, adding: “You have brought so much happiness to my children providing such a wonderful place to play”.

Nick Steevens, head of regulatory services at Hart District Council, said: “We are saddened to hear of the closure of Little Play Town in Odiham. Throughout this case the council has worked proactively with the business to try and find a resolution and give reasonable time to address the issues.

“The council had also been in regular contact with the landlord to discuss possible resolutions as supporting local businesses is a key priority for the council and we fully recognise the benefit that businesses such as Little Play Town provided.”

The landlord declined to comment.