Despite hundreds of supporters, a gym club has lost its bid to create a base for training young gymnasts in Sidlesham.
A petition of 218 signatures was submitted asking for the plans for the Academy of Gym to be approved, along with nearly 60 letters of support.
But planning officers ruled the countryside development at Keynor Farm, Keynor Lane was unsuitable and the warehouse site needed to be marketed more extensively for business use before it could become anything else.
Kris Dorney, who runs the club, said: “It’s the council just being really short-sighted and not looking at the big picture and just looking at the policy book.
“Being in the countryside we get more for our money, more space and in the city it’s much more expensive, we have to maybe look for something smaller, but we’ve got so many kids.”
She said the growing club of around 170 members, which has several promising youngsters, needed specialised facilties other than the halls it rented at Westgate Leisure Centre, Bishop Luffa School and in Bognor, Chidham and Portsmouth.
The not-for-profit gym group had spent a long time looking for a suitable location to create its own dedicated base, and the defeat came as a disappointment.
Kris said: “We put a lot of hard work into trying to drum up support and we had the publicity and I think it’s just a blow.”
Concerns over the Keynor Farm proposal from planning officers included the impact of travel on weekends and evenings.
The refusal notice read: “This activity within its rural location would be detrimental to the rural and tranquil character of the locality and to the amenities of nearby residential properties and gardens.”
Kris said the club will keep looking for a new site and asked for help finding an alternative location.
As an added problem to face, she said the club has since been told it will have to stop renting a time slot at Regis Gymnastics Club this autumn, making the timing even more urgent.
“I think we will get there in the end,” she said.
Anybody who is able to help can contact Kris on 07719259312.
See planning application reference 18/00271/FUL