ADUR’S only permanent gymnastics facility has been given permission to expand, against advice from council officers.
Councillors unanimously agreed Wickers Gymnastics Club could take on a second unit in Chartwell Business Centre because there was nowhere else in Adur such a facility could go.
Adur District Council’s planning committee, which met last Monday, was recommended to refuse the change of use because of the loss of an industrial unit.
Councillor Carol Albury said: “I can’t think of any other large area that would be able to contain the amount of equipment and the amount of area that they need.
“I would feel that this would be a one-off for this particular occasion, not anything else other than a gym. I would be happy on this business centre, even though I know it is very busy and there are hardly any, or only one, empty at the moment, to give this club permission because I cannot think of any other area in Adur where they would be able to get facilities and the large area they need for this.”
Brian Coomber said it was the exception to the rule and Geoff Patmore added: “I think it is a brilliant opportunity for young people. It is attracting a lot of investment and providing employment. I support this to the hilt.”
The club has occupied Unit 10, in Chartwell Road, Lancing, since 2008.
Trustee Geoff Hodgson said the club had been in existence for 26 years and the change of use at Unit 9 would allow the club to increase the floor area available by combining the two units.
“This is the only permanent gymnastics facility in the Adur district and is one of the largest youth facilities in the district, creating opportunities for children, young people and adults to participate and excel at all levels of gymnastics,” he said.
“There are over 800 gymnasts using this facility per week, from baby walkers, children, young people right through to adults. The club employs 15 qualified coaches and an admin assistant. The addition of Unit 9 would offer employment initially to a further four coaches, with a view to increase further. We also have 20 volunteers.”
The club offers a coaching and education programme and there is an extensive competitive side to its activities.
Mr Hodgson said: “Wickers now excels at all competitive levels and constantly dominates the medal podiums at all the competitions the squads compete in. We have three gymnasts in the women’s artistic Sussex county squad with ambition for them to be selected for the national squad in the future.”
Wickers has attracted inward investment of £60,000 from Sport England to construct its foam landing pit. West Sussex Big Society Fund is approving £16,000 for the club to purchase a sprung floor and Adur Community Fund recently awarded the club £5,000 to purchase mats.
Mr Hodgson added: “Wickers is providing excellent, first-class gymnastics facilities for the Adur community, based in one of the most deprived wards in the Adur district.”