Members of Scottish Borders Council’s local review body met today, Monday, April 18, to consider the future of the Braveheart gym, located at Whinstone Mill on the Netherdale Industrial Estate, and billed as “Galashiels only functional fitness and Olympic lifting facility”.
Its owner Lianne Wallace had submitted a bid for the industrial unit’s change of use.
In his report the council’s lead planning officer, Carlos Clarke, recommended refusal of the application on the grounds of the loss of an industrial unit to leisure use.
But committee members decided that the benefits of the gym outweighed the loss of an industrial facility.
Councillor Clair Ramage said: “This is a difficult one because in the current climate, and what people have had to deal with over the last couple of years, people are now getting out more and going to the gym and I see it as a positive step forward.
“The applicant has obviously invested heavily in this and she’s talking about employing ten staff and the businesses round about don’t seem to have any issues with the gym being there. She needs floor space for the type of business she is running.”
Fellow Hawick councillor Neil Richards added: “I don’t think this is a threat to any one wanting to bring their business into that area, in fact gyms can be very beneficial to an area.”
Tweeddale West ward’s Councillor Eric Small said: “She’s invested quite a lot of money in this business and it seems to be thriving. It’s creating employment and people are getting fitter so I’m going against the officer on this.”
One of the conditions of approval is that should the gym close the unit would return to industrial use.
In a statement submitted with the planning bid, the applicant reveals that she launched the gym after being made redundant from Spark Energy in Selkirk and had originally converted her spare room at a flat in Galashiels for personal training sessions.