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Planners now back retail park gym bid

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Planners now back retail park gym bid

A NEW 24 hour gym is set to get the go ahead to open on a Dumfries retail park, despite dozens of objections.

NewRiver Retail are proposing the ‘budget’ health and fitness centre in unit five, the former site of Laura Ashley, to be run by The Gym Group.

They say that after looking at 11 other sites in and around the town, none are either suitable or available.

The applicants have also produced a gym needs assessment showing “a quantitative need for at least another two gyms in Dumfries by 2026 and another five gyms by 2031.”

They pointed out that there has been no other interest in the unit from retailers and say: “The proposal will bring a range of benefits including revitalisation of a popular retail park, the re-use of units which would otherwise remain vacant, and new jobs.”

But there are many opposed to the idea and 32 objections have been lodged.

Opponents’ main concerns are lack of demand and current sufficient provision locally, under capacity at existing gyms, the impact on similar businesses and location.

A similar proposal for gym at Cuckoo Bridge was refused in June 2020 as planners said it went against the local plan and it had not been satisfactorily demonstrated that a more sequentially preferable site identified in the town centre at 167 Irish Street, Dumfries, would be unsuitable” and that it would result in the reduction of retail floorspace.

However, planners are now recommending the latest application for approval.

Case officer Andrew Robinson said: “It is considered that the applicant’s consultants have undertaken a reasonable assessment of more sequentially preferable sites located in both Dumfries town centre and edge of centre to meet their requirements with detailed reasons provided stating why the sites are not considered to be suitable or available for the proposed development.

“Based on the evidence presented, it is considered that the assessment has demonstrated that the proposal could address a quantitative deficiency in provision, albeit it is not considered that the case is as strong as suggested in the supporting information due to uncertainties as to whether the market will grow at the rate predicated.”

If the plans get approved by councillors next week, The Gym Group expect to sign up 2000 members. They will provide 63 gym stations and be open 24/7.

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