Gym facilties are a ‘growing’ market and should be encouraged, according to the district council’s economic development service.
The comments, made in support of an renewed application for Grit Gym to convert a unit in Terminus Road, stressed there was ‘currently no available space for gyms, either within the town centre or on out of town sites’.
Grit Gym’s owner has said the business is ‘hanging by a thread’ after a planning permission was refused last year for the vacant office space to become the leisure facility’s new base.
Now the gym is trying again to persuade the council that it should remain in the city.
Redoubling its support for the plan, the council’s economic development service cited a report from the Local Data Company entitled ‘No Frills Fitness’, which found the gym sector was overcoming market challenges elsewhere.
A section quoted from the report said: “In a period of doom and gloom in the market, it’s fantastic when we can talk about a sector which is performing really well.
“A seismic shift in consumer behaviour is still taking place, which revolves around healthy living and the importance of looking after your body and your mind.
“The gym market is one that we expect will see continued growth, as demand increases for flexible, convenient and low‐cost facilities.”
The EDS went on to state there was no available space for gyms in Chichester adding: “There is a growing demand for gyms that the current local plan does not cover.
“This proposed gym expects to employ up to 19 FTE [full time employees].”
Revised planning policy in the Local Plan Review, under consultation this month, supports the conversion of employment sites by exception where: “There is an overriding community or leisure benefit from the proposed alternative use which cannot be met elsewhere and that the use does not prejudice the operation of and market attractiveness of the wider employment area.” (Policy DM9)
Under current planning policy, employment sites have to be marketed for a minimum of 18 months before a change of use can be permitted.