Retrospective planning bid for gym divides opinion

More than 120 people have so far had their say on the retrospective planning application for a gym at Unity Business Park on the A431 in Bitton, with one local resident complaining that at times the area sounds like a “town centre night club”.

Overspill parking is another issue highlighted on South Gloucestershire Council’s planning portal by objectors.

Dozens of people in favour of the planning application speak of the benefits to members’ health and wellbeing, but some  local residents say it is impacting theirs negatively.

When Unity Tyres left the Bath Road site, the council granted permission for alterations to the warehouse buildings from storage and distribution to a mixed use of business, general industrial and storage and distribution. However, that does not cover use as a gym.

The retrospective planning application has recently been submitted by JNPT Health and Fitness to change the use of Units 1 and Unit 2 to indoor sport, recreation or fitness.

The applicant says that it is a members-only gym and health and fitness suite. Change of use began in May 2022 and the building’s owner had “suggested that the intended use was not an issue”.

The planning application says there is on-site parking for 16 cars and that gym opening times are 6am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 7am to 1pm on Saturdays and 8am to noon on Sundays and bank holidays.

Objectors say this is not enough parking provision as there are six full-time staff members and classes are advertised for of 35+ members so they end up parking on Bath Road and on the A4175 Cherry Garden Road which are both busy and used by buses and HGVs.

Comments include: “Customers have been seen to park half on the pavement on the south side of the Bath Road, obstructing prams/pushchairs, indeed occasionally forcing them into the road, and also on the grass verges in the side road of Cherry Gardens.”

“It seems that some classes feature heavily rhythmic music played at considerable volume to aid the tempo of the exercise, necessitating the use of a microphone and amplification in order to convey instructions. This becomes a little wearing when every syllable can be heard clearly in my house and the whole area sounds like a town centre night club.

“I appreciate that some consideration now appears to have been given to keeping the windows closed but the soundproofing of the property is clearly virtually non-existent.”

Another resident said that an environmental health complaint was opened a year ago and the gym has been asked by the council to keep windows and doors closed until 7am, “but this is not consistent”.

A nearby resident said that the daily noise has had a huge impact on their mental health and stress levels: “On some occasions the noise can still be heard when we are inside with the windows and doors closed.”

In addition to the many comments of praise on the planning portal from members, supporters also point out that the gym is on a busy main road and parking is a regular occurrence outside the nearby football club and Avon Valley Railway on steam train days.

One said: “I strongly advise the committee to consider how this gym impacts positively on people’s lives. I’m sure the only people objecting will be the immediate locals.”

The deadline for comments is next Friday (11th August). The planning reference is P23/01643/F.