Tuesday, 17 July 2018

New gym approved despite fears over noise and parking

A NEW gym in Henley has been given planning permission despite concerns over noise and parking.

A NEW gym in Henley has been given planning permission despite concerns over noise and parking.

Property developer Malcolm Jiggens will create the health and fitness centre at a commercial unit he owns at Centenary Business Park, off Station Road.

The gym will be two floors with a total floor space of 3,750 square feet and will have 26 items of cardiovascular equipment such as treadmills, exercise bikes and rowing machines.

The industrial roller shutter windows will be replaced with glass.

The unit had been occupied by catering and event hire company Place Settings until its lease expired on October 1.

South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee approved the application in spite of objections by Henley Town Council and two residents of Grange Road.

Planning officer Davina Sarac said she didn’t believe a “legitimate” objection could be raised to the proposed change of use on the basis of potential noise disturbance to adjoining commercial occupiers and homes in Grange Road 60 metres away.

She said: “Should any noise-related issues arise as a result of the change of use, these could be investigated by the council’s environmental health team and can be controlled under separate legislation.”

Mr Jiggens, 56, from Binfield Heath, submitted his application in autumn last year less than a month after the closure of LA Fitness in Newtown Road, which led to protests by members angry at the lack of alternatives.

He said: “Due to LA Fitness shutting, there is a large demand from the Henley public wanting a fitness centre for our town’s wellbeing.

“So much so, it has been the talking point in the local paper, even to the point of a petition being set up. The plan is to open a professional yet functional centre for all audiences as soon as possible.”

Mr Jiggens, whose son Jack will run the centre, told the Henley Standard: “We’re looking to replace what people have lost with LA Fitness closing.

“Obviously, we can’t offer the swimming pool but we’re trying to offer as much as we can.

“If we don’t try to put something out there there’s a possibility that people might have second thoughts and take up membership at a gym in Reading and Marlow, for example.

“It would nice to think if it was successful as we could expand it. Invesco Perpetual employs 400 people and they are walking distance from it.”

Henley Mayor Lorraine Hillier spoke in support of the application at the committee meeting.

Previously, the town council’s planning committee had argued that the corrugated steel building could not be fully insulated to contain the sound of music and exercise equipment.

Councillor Jane Smewing said: “It’s going to be horrendously noisy.” Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “Neighbours believe it is going to be a major disturbance. It is a corrugated building and you can only put in so much insulation.”

Mr Jiggens, the founder of Southern Plant Hire, said most members would listen to music through their headphones so background music would be played quietly.

The walls between the units were eight inches thick and would provide a “good sound barrier”.

He said congestion wouldn’t be a problem as the gym would be most heavily used outside working hours, when there would be plenty of free space at the station car park.

The number of parking spaces would be reduced by one to five but eight cycle spaces would be created.

Mr Jiggens said the conversion work would cost more than £100,000 and the gym would have a full-time member of staff and two part-timers.

It will be open from 6am to 10pm Monday to Friday and 7am until 9pm at weekends.

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