Sports – Saxon Square?

There has been some debate about the use of the now-vacant Priory Sports store, in a corner of Saxon Square. An application to make this unit into a 24-hour Anytime Fitness Centre, for exercise rather than sales, was placed in June 2017. Originally this was refused, as being against the Council planning policy.

Here is a full statement from the applicant:

We believe our proposal helps to meet the goals set out in the new local plan which says that Christchurch will continue to act as the key town centre in the borough and will be the main focus for retail development.

Future growth and development will be based around promoting the town centre as a place to shop, participate in leisure activities, enjoy culture, access key services and enjoy good food and drink.

There is a need to expand the health and fitness offer in the town centre.

The proposed fitness club will retain a retail shop front appearance, and provide an active and well-lit frontage.

Anytime Fitness gyms are designed to be welcoming and accessible.

The gym will be active into the evening hours, assisting with the evening economy and may help to draw people into the centre who seek to combine a visit to the gym with their errands or shopping.

They say that when they opened in Dorchester 1500 members joined in the first six months, with 500 people attending each day They conclude that this is a large financial investment and will increase the town’s vitality.

What do you think? Here is an article from the Bournemouth Echo

Postscript – 30 December 2017

The plans have been given the go-ahead  by the Council, under delegated powers. There will be two shops and gym space on the ground floor, and also gym space on the ground and first floors. There will be eight staff members from Anytime Fitness.

Here is an Echo article from 30 December announcing the decision.

Post-postscript – 16 July 2018

In The Echo today we were told that the sports’ centre will in fact be larger than originally planned. As well as the original 27 Saxon Square, it is proposed to add numbers 25 and 26.

Saxon Square sports

The empty shop in July, showing the adjacent units. Note that it only involved the upper floor of these. No larger picture available

Update 11 October 2018

Echo article – permission being sought for illuminated signage.

Update, 1 December (!): Very interesting article (and comments) in The Echo.

Today was chilly but sunny, and Christchurch was busy. There were lots of stalls in Saxon Square, and then – surprise, surprise – Anytime Fitness are well under way with their preparation for the opening of their new 24-hour gym, above what was Priory Sports at the corner.

As you can see above, the doors are open and three staff, including James, the manager, were there to welcome potential clients, or just have chat with anyone who wanted to see what was going on. They were all very welcoming, and though there is still a lot of work to do, they were clearly excited by the project

Inside there were three different pieces of apparatus set up, and people were welcome to try them, under careful supervision of course.

Fitness apparatus AND posh chairs! Click for a larger version

Finally, here is their card showing important details. Click the image to go to the Christchurch page of their website – the rest of the site, including other branches, can be viewed by using the menu on that page.

Click this image to go to their website

Update, 4 December

A lot of preparation under way, involving workmen, saws and dust!