A CHILDREN'S role-play centre that opened its doors in December last year, has abruptly shut down, leaving families surprised and disappointed.

TotCity, situated on the upper floor of the former Lloyds Bank building at the Top of Town, confirmed that it is closed for good on Tuesday, August 8 – less than a year after it opened.

The owners said they took the difficult decision due to "economic and other issues".

Part of a larger network with branches in Andover, Salisbury, and Worthing, TotCity has removed Basingstoke from its official list of locations on its website.

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The Basingstoke centre was the family-run business’s fifth venue.

The business was first launched by Leon Li in Andover in 2019, and the father-of-one decided to expand following the pandemic.

Mr Li told the Gazette: “Regrettably TotCity Basingstoke won’t be opening anymore – mainly due to the adversity of the economic and other issues. We wanted to contribute to the community in Basingstoke and have a safe place for the little ones to play and forget the parents to relax.

“With a painful heart we won’t be coming to Basingstoke anymore.”

Basingstoke Gazette: A notice outside the TotCity Basingstoke centre.A notice outside the TotCity Basingstoke centre. (Image: Newsquest)

However, it is not the first time the business has faced adversity.

Its Winchester branch, launched last year, was also closed in April this year due to financial difficulties.

When it first opened the Basingstoke centre encountered difficulties as some parents took to social media to voice their dissatisfaction with the facility.

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A concerned parent, who chose to remain anonymous, expressed her disappointment after visiting with her one-year-old daughter.

Issues reported included a broken climbing frame, improperly secured carpets, and heaters within reach of children.

The parent also complained about the facility's promised pram rack at the rear of the building being inaccessible, prompting criticism about its lack of pushchair-friendliness.

Numerous negative reviews surfaced on social media platforms, focusing primarily on safety concerns related to the climbing frame and stairs.

These complaints triggered visits from environmental health and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service officers.

In response to the feedback and recommendations provided by both the council and fire officers, TotCity had pledged to make improvements to its centre.