Budget gym’s Smethwick plans set for go ahead

A national budget gym chain could create 50 jobs in Smethwick after its plans to convert a former office building into a new branch were recommended for the green light by Sandwell planners.

But approval for the 34,800 sq ft development rests on a determination by the full council, due to the proposal lying outside of its development plan for the area.

Xercise4Less lodged the application with Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in April 2015.

The Crystal Drive site is under an area designated as a potential strategic high quality employment land, but council planners urged the local plan to be “set aside” as part of its recommendation for approval, which is subject to a number of conditions.

They added that the property was “unlikely” to be used as an office again in the near future.

Xercise4Less estimates that the gym could attract up to 7,500 members and would include 110 parking spaces for clients.

The application attracted four objections from local residents, who stated that there were already a number of gyms in the area and the scheme would offer inadequate parking. A resident also complained about the fact Xercise4Less had already advertised the site prior to approval.

Planners said any marketing was done at the companies risk and competition issues do not come under grounds for refusal.

The council will discuss the recommendation at a planning meeting next week (1 July).

The decision comes months after Xercise4Less announced the launch a £1m club in Stoke, which is set to create 40 jobs in the city.

The company will open the 29,000 sq ft branch, its second in Stoke in as many years, this month.

Xercise4Less has 27 gyms across the UK, with clubs in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Wolverhampton and Dudley. According to its website, it is also planning further openings in Birmingham and Rugby.

In January, the Yorkshire-headquartered chain secured a £31m funding package, including a £5m equity investment from the Business Growth Fund, to finance its expansion plans. It hopes to have 30 gyms across the UK by the end of 2015.

Source: InsiderNews

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