Express & Star

Housing plan for old fitness club rejected for variety of reasons

A proposal to convert an old fitness centre in Darlaston into more than 20 apartments has been rejected.

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LM Legacy Health and Fitness Centre, Cramp Hill, Darlaston

Walsall Council planning officers refused to grant permission for the plan by Strollers Ltd to transform LM Legacy Health and Fitness Centre, on Cramp Hill, into new housing.

The centre has been closed for a number of years but, if the redevelopment had been granted, it would have seen 18 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom flats created.

But officers said the redevelopment would have had a negative impact on the setting of the neighbouring Grade II Listed St Lawrence Church.

Other reasons for refusal included a lack of off-road parking, lack of amenity space for some of the residents, anti-social behaviour concerns and no legal agreement to secure payments for an open space contribution.

Representatives for the developer said the property had been marketed to let for almost four years but without any success.

And, in a heritage impact statement, Archaeological Project Services said transforming the current building would improve views from the neighbouring Grade II Listed St Lawrence’s Church.

Agents CT Planning said: “The property was actively jointly marketed to let and for sale by Mason Young and My World Estates between September 2019 and September 2022. (They) received 12 viewings, of which no interest has come forward.

“The site is positioned in a sustainable location, close to public transport, Darlaston Town Centre and a variety of amenities and services to successfully achieve the principles of a 15-minute neighbourhood.

“The site is not located in a Conservation Area; however, St Lawrence Church lies to the south of the site.

“It is considered that an appropriate landscaping scheme can be secured by condition to soften the impact of the development on the listed asset.

“It has been demonstrated that the property, in accordance with policy, has been actively marketed for at least a one-year period, with little interest, and there is sufficient alternative amenity within close proximity of the site to compensate for the loss of the health club.

“Overall, it is considered that the proposal makes the most efficient use of this brownfield site, by sensitively increasing the scale of the existing building by one storey, to deliver 22 apartments.”