Guildbourne Centre gym is approved

A LOW-cost gym chain is to move into the Guildbourne Centre after a successful planning application.

Fitspace, which operates nine other gyms across the country, has been given approval to convert the former Somerfield site, which has been empty since 2011.

Although the conversion will result in a loss of retail space, an extended marketing campaign demonstrated no interest from retailers.

Town centre manager Sharon Clarke said the new addition to the centre would be a boost for the resident businesses.

She said: “The unit is so huge it was going to be very difficult to find something to go in there, so I think a gym will be a good thing.

“We do have quite a few in the area but if Fitspace can offer something different, there is space for all of them.

“Anything going in there, rather than an empty unit, has to be a positive.”

The conundrum regarding the site’s appeal was summed up in a marketing report by Jon Justice, on behalf of commercial property agent Michael Jones.

It read: “With the exception of Wilkinsons, the centre is unfortunately poorly represented by independent retailers. The first floor has been sealed off to the public.

“It is not a desirable location for national multiples however clearly the subject unit is too large for independent retailers to consider.”

News of the gym’s initial interest in coming to the centre was reported by the Herald in August last year.