Borders gym row is a sign of the times

A row over a large advertising hoarding for a Borders gym will be decided by a government planning reporter.
The large hoarding was installed at the bottom of Hall St. Photo: Google.The large hoarding was installed at the bottom of Hall St. Photo: Google.
The large hoarding was installed at the bottom of Hall St. Photo: Google.

The hoarding for Conrad Campbell’s Unit 8 Gym in Tweedbank was installed in Hall Street, Galashiels, without the submission of a planning application to the local authority and it attracted criticism from a rival gym owner.

A subsequent retrospective application was then rejected by Scottish Borders Council planners in November last year, after it was deemed a “threat to road safety”.

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That decision has been challenged and the dispute is now to be resolved by a Scottish Government planning reporter.

A supporting statement from Mr Campbell, accompanying his application, said: “The purpose of the sign installation at this location is to increase awareness of the gym’s presence to those residing and working within the central and west side of Galashiels. The gym currently has over 250 members and I’m trying to further increase membership, offering its facilities to everyone in Galashiels and the surrounding areas.

“My friend who owns the first-floor property at 1 Hall Street was more than happy to grant consent for the sign. I did not at the time realise that advertisement consent would be required. I feel that the sign blends in aesthetically, that it’s not out of place in this location and does not have any detrimental effect. The sign is professionally installed and secure. I have worked hard through these tough times to build my business and explore other avenues to further boost gym membership and hope that this application can be viewed positively.”

But SBC’s planning department refused the application, a refusal notice stating: “The advertisement would represent a threat to road safety and would, as a result, impact adversely on public safety at this location. The advertisement would not relate well to the location at which it is displayed, or be in keeping with the character of the building to which it is attached, and would contribute to unsightly clutter, thereby having an adverse impact on the amenity of the surrounding area.”

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Three letters of objection had been submitted, one of them from Daniel Crowe, a director of Titan 365 gym in Wheatlands Road, Galashiels.

Mr Crowe wrote: “If this application were to be granted, I fear we will be able to see nothing on our streets other than businesses advertising themselves. I for one don’t want that to happen. As a local business owner myself, I believe that a business should operate within the rules set out by the SBC and the Scottish Government.

“I also believe a business should be able to grow, thrive, advertise and conduct itself with a certain amount of class. Whilst I fully understand the need to advertise services to the local area, I believe this sign is seriously misplaced as the entire area of Galashiels is already covered by three very successful fitness facilities.”

In his appeal application to the national planning agency, Mr Campbell states: “I believe that the sign blends in well with the surroundings, is secure and it not a hazard to adjacent road users, not being any more distracting than any other sign adjacent to any other roadway. It promotes health and well-being, has been generally well accepted by local people in the immediate surrounding area … all objections received were from another local gym and their members.”