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Future of Crystal Maze LIVE is a puzzle

Town Hall investigate whether an off-screen version of cult TV show broke planning rules

12 January, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Crystal Maze LIVE Experience could be replaced by a seven-storey office block

WITH its devilish games and fantasy worlds, Channel 4’s cult television show The Crystal Maze has always proved irresistible for adrenaline-seekers looking to crack its mysteries and physical challenges.

But fans hoping to tackle an off-screen version of the giant gameshow, which has been set up in a former college in Angel, may be running out of time to zip up their jumpsuits after the Town Hall began an investigation into whether planning rules have been broken.

Officials are probing whether the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience, in which contestants pay more than £50 each to take a turn, opened without the correct consent. The operators insist, however, they have acted by the book.

The enquiries were revealed as councillors prepare to rule on whether the White Lion Street building, previously home to the Kaplan Law School, can be demolished in the future to make way for a new seven-storey office block.

The Crystal Maze TV show involves teams trying to win crystals from various puzzles and physical tasks set up in rooms. The more crystals that are won, the more time they get to collect gold tickets in a wind-rush dome.

This format proved a hit with viewers in the early 1990s when it was fronted by Rocky Horror Picture Show star Richard O’Brien. It was revived for television screens last year with comedian Richard Ayoade now in the host role.

Richard Ayoade is the current presenter of The Crystal Maze TV show

The live experience in Islington had launched in March 2016 with participants – often workmates on bonding sessions – leaving the Crystal Dome raving about the thrills inside. It had been helped initially by Crowdfunding campaign, which raised £500,000 in just eight days.

An upgrade to the “Futuristic” zone has recently been carried out and it is due to reopen to adventurers on Saturday.

An Islington Council spokesman said yesterday (Thursday): “We have recently been made aware that the use of the site does not have the correct planning consent, and have opened an enforce­ment investigation.” The case could hinge, however, on what is meant by education and training in the Town Hall’s planning codes, and whether the building’s current use is actually an “entertainment facility”.

In a statement provided to the Tribune, a spokes­woman for The Crystal Maze Live said: “We looked into the question of planning and took some advice before we moved in. As we are primarily a training and teambuilding facility, we actually fall within the scope of the planning permission that is in force.”

She added: “The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience has an exci­ting future ahead of it, both in the UK and abroad, so keep an eye on our website for more information coming soon.”

The operators said they could not comment any further on whether the future of the experience was at that site in light of the development plans submitted to the Town Hall.

Plans for the proposed offices submitted by agent Maddox Associates include a large office building in Angel town centre, to be used by one big organisation, or several businesses. It would not include any housing, but paperwork filed at the council said a financial contribution of £849,200 towards afford­able housing elsewhere.

A decision is due on Thursday evening.


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