By Harriet Ernstsons Tuesday 03 September 2013 Updated: 05/09 11:02
GYMS and fitness centres should be allowed outside of the town centre to revitalise other parts of the borough, a councillor has urged.
Coun David Bush spoke out during a debate about an application to turn empty units on Lakeside Industrial Park in New Meadow Road into a new gym, during which he argued the creation of such facilities around the town could help reinvigorate certain areas.
Planners had urged councillors to refuse the application saying it would result in the loss of employment land and such businesses should be located in the town centre to protect its future viability. They also did not accept a thorough assessment of suitable town centre locations had been carried out.
But at a planning committee meeting last Wednesday (August 28) councillors ignored the recommendation to give the plans the green light.
"We should be promoting gymnasiums and fitness," Coun Bush told the meeting.
"The Abbey Stadium is outside the town centre and we spent millions of pounds putting it there.
"It isn't like it's going to be the only gym, it's a bit like local shops, ultimately people want local services.
"By looking at the town centre first we are excluding people that live in the periphery whereas we could improve the viability of estates by allowing some leisure facilities."
Coun Joe Baker questioned whether buildings were being left empty 'for the sake of having buildings that are empty'.
"We should be trying to encourage businesses to come into Redditch and encourage employment. Sometimes you've got to look outside the box a little bit.
"What worries me is how long are these buildings going to remain empty if no one's coming along to use them."
Applicant Paul Summers said he had tried to find a site within the centre but had been unable to find anywhere suitable. He told councillors a precedent had already been set by allowing change of use to a number of buildings on the industrial park, resulting in the creation of a boxing gym, café and soft play area.
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