JUMP­ING THROUGH HOOPS FOR GYM CEN­TRE

Cel­e­bra­tions as ‘des­per­ately needed’ fa­cil­ity is ap­proved

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Camil­la_Good­man

GYMNASTS are jump­ing for joy af­ter the green light was given to build a ‘des­per­ate­lyneeded’ £750,000 cen­tre to meet the ris­ing de­mand of a pop­u­lar chil­dren’s club.

Chiltern Dis­trict Coun­cil's plan­ning com­mit­tee re­cently gave the go-ahead for Abbey Gym Club to build a gym­nas­tics cen­tre at Sprint­ers Leisure Cen­tre, in Hon­our End Lane, Prest­wood.

The club, founded in 1984, has been op­er­at­ing out of Prest­wood Ju­nior School for 25 years and has more than 240 gymnasts par­tic­i­pat­ing each week.

It put in the ap­pli­ca­tion to build a new com­mu­nity fa­cil­ity be­cause it was ‘des­per­ately needed to meet the lo­cal needs,' due to the school be­ing too small to ac­com­mo­date de­mand, with a wait­ing list near­ing 300 chil­dren.

The club's com­mit­tee did look at other venues to move to, but they ei­ther did not meet the club's needs or they were in the green belt, mak­ing devel­op­ment dif­fi­cult.

In its ap­pli­ca­tion, the club said the build­ing will be as small as pos­si­ble to keep its ‘im­pact' to a min­i­mum.

How­ever, the coun­cil's plan­ning of­fi­cerdis­agreedan­drec­om­mended re­fusal, say­ing the gym­na­sium would have a ‘se­vere im­pact' on the land­scape.

She added the coun­cil's pol­icy is to refuse in­door sports fa­cil­i­ties in the green belt un­less cri­te­ria, which she said this ap­pli­ca­tion failed to meet, are sat­is­fied.

De­spite the plan­ning of­fi­cer's con­cerns, coun­cil­lors granted per­mis­sion and the club may now be­gin build­ing the new club.

The new cen­tre will al­low the club to hold big­ger classes more of­ten.

The plans were wel­comed by vil­lagers and at­tracted 32 let­ters of sup­port, in­clud­ing back­ing from Great Mis­senden Par­ish Coun­cil, which gave rea­sons in­clud­ing an op­por­tu­nity for chil­dren; huge de­mand; ben­e­fit to the vil­lage; a sym­pa­thetic de­sign; suf­fi­cient car park­ing; the Olympic legacy; and ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties be­ing too small and hav­ing in­suf­fi­cient car park­ing.

Writ­ing to Chiltern Dis­trict Coun­cil, sup­porter Roger Evans said the club is prob­a­bly the largest sports club for chil­dren in the vil­lage and that the gym­na­sium is a fa­cil­ity re­quired in the area.”

Sue Rayns­ford, in sup­port of the ap­pli­ca­tion, said: “There are many in the com­mu­nity who can­not ben­e­fit from the club be­cause of its lim­ited fa­cil­i­ties.

"The de­mand is there and with a proper fa­cil­ity, it'll con­tinue to de­velop and will be­come an even greater ben­e­fit to Prest­wood and Great Mis­senden.”

How­ever, the ap­pli­ca­tion also at­tracted six let­ters of ob­jec­tion, which asked for re­fusal on the grounds of in­creased traf­fic and ‘in­ap­pro­pri­ate' de­sign of the build­ing in the area of out­stand­ing nat­u­ral beauty.

Fa­cil­i­ties: Abbey Gym Club has been granted per­mis­sion to build a much-needed

£750,000 gym­nas­tic cen­tre at Sprint­ers Leisure Cen­tre

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