A BUSINESS planning to launch Bolton’s first 'escape rooms' game centre has been left devastated after its proposals were rejected.

Bolton firm No Exit submitted plans to bring the live escape rooms game to a vacant site in Market Street in the town centre, stating that it wanted to offer a different kind of social activity to local people.

The company intended to offer an experience in which teams would have to put their logic to the test and work together to find clues in a bid to escape from the room within an hour.

But the team behind the plans said they were shocked to be told that Bolton Council had rejected their proposals outright because they wanted to keep the site for retail purposes only.

A spokesman for No Exit said: “We are just totally shocked at this news.

“We thought this was a way to use up an empty premises in the town centre and bring something new and different for people to do to Bolton town centre.

“The council has said it wants to keep the unit for retail, but it would be on the first floor anyway — also they are allowing a cinema to be created just yards away.

“We are a new starter business from Bolton and we wanted to bring this exciting new venture to the town but will now have to look elsewhere.”

The council said the rejection was based upon its requirement for retail in the proposed site.

A spokesman said: “The proposed site is located in the middle of the core shopping area of Bolton.

“We would be happy to work with the applicants if they are able to find an alternative location for this concept.”

Escape room games have become increasingly popular in the UK in recent years, with the Breakout company operating a successful site in Manchester City Centre.

The No Exit spokesman added: “Breakout in Manchester is right in the centre and is very popular and always fully booked.

“We thought it would be something that the people of Bolton would have enjoyed and have put a lot of time and money into the idea — we are devastated.”

The company said it will be appealing against the decision.