Planning Consent Obtained by Miller & Miller to Convert a Former Industrial Warehouse to Gymnasium
Miller & Miller are delighted to have secured planning permission for the change of use of an unused warehouse to create a new home for a popular gymnasium club.
Gymnasium club members have gone on to compete at a national level, but the club faced constraints due to time and space limitations at their rental premises; resulting in shorter training hours and long waiting lists. To overcome these problems, the club sought a more suitable training space in which they could enjoy sole occupancy.
Miller & Miller acted as agents in the preparation and submission of a full planning application for the change of use of a commercial industrial unit, Use Class B, to Use Class D2, leisure and recreation. In order to secure consent, we put forward a strong case to justify the change of use and show how the development consisted of an efficient and effective use of land.
The site benefited from excellent sustainable transport links and was not included within land designated for economic use within the Local Plan. However, site constraints included the blanket protection of employment (B class) use sites in the area by the Local Plan. A sequential test was required to comply with NPPF Chapter 7 to justify the location of a leisure facility outside of the town centre.
Working with the client, owner and estate agents we were able to show that a comprehensive marketing scheme had taken place on the property, and that there was low market demand for the property as an economic unit under class use B. In contrast it could be shown that leisure use facilities were in scarcity; evidence of this was provided to Bolsover District Council through the identification of and reference to relevant assessments on local economic and leisure provisions.
It was also demonstrated that the client had made a search of alternative sites closer to the town centre but had been unable to identify any other local site which would serve as suitable premises.
Our planning statement stressed the positive attributes of the location which, although on the outskirts of the town centre, was highly accessible and well connected via public transport and sustainable travel methods. The proposed location also avoided an intensification of town centre traffic levels which had been identified by the Local Authority as a problem for the area.
Gymnasium clubs have very specific spatial requirements which are difficult to accommodate within town centres. Industrial units tend to be best fit in terms of internal dimensions, flexibility of the space, ceiling height and general capacity. Miller & Miller were able to demonstrate the suitability of the site and building for the proposed use with ample space for parking and manoeuvre, safe access for pedestrians and consideration given to fire safety.
The benefit of a community use at this location was shown by us to outweigh any need for the empty warehouse to retain its use class. This argument was bolstered by strong support from local organisations including Schools Partnerships, the Local Authority’s own internal consultants and the Gymnastics Association.
The planning officer concluded in their report that the evidence provided justified the change of use of the protected employment site into an out of town leisure facility and the application was therefore recommended for approval.
The new venue will enable the club to flourish, allowing its existing club members to progress and compete at higher levels with the support of high standards of coaching. Full control over its space will allow the club to open its doors to new members and reduce the waiting list for places.
The application enjoyed a huge amount of support from the local community and we have no doubt that the new gymnasium facility will be a great asset to them. We are proud to have played our part.
Thanks goes to Bolsover District Council who engaged with us in a positive and pro-active manner throughout the planning process. This enabled potential issues to be resolved without need for appeal.