BETWEEN 40 to 50 jobs could be created if a retail unit on the edge of Wrexham city centre is converted into a gym or leisure facility.
Wrexham Council’s planning department has received an application to change the use of Unit D on the Plas Coch Retail Park, from Class 1A retail to Class D2 assembly and leisure.
The unit was previously home to a Sports Direct store.
Some gym-goers were dealt a blow earlier this year when it was announced that Everlast would be leaving another of the units on the retail park, which is to be occupied by an M&S Foodhall.
In a supporting statement produced by planning consultants Quod on behalf of applicants Ediston, the owners of the retail park, it is said that much interest has been shown in the vacant Unit D – including from gym operators since the departure of Everlast was announced at the start of the year.
According to the application documents other vacant units in the city centre and at other retail parks have been ruled out as being too small, too large or otherwise unviable for a 24/7 gym operator.
A supporting statement submitted with the application says dozens of jobs could be created if plans are granted.
It states: “The proposals will create around 40 jobs in the local area, comprising a mix of new full and part time jobs. The job creation is significant and there will be tangible positive impact on local employment as a result. Additional jobs will be created during the fit-out process.
“The proposals result in a number of positive impacts, including bringing back into economic use vacant floorspace, increasing the employment opportunities available to the local community, and an investment into the local economy.”
According to the documents, there has been interest from a number of leisure operators leading to this application being made.
A planning statement issued with the application states: “The application is pursued following interest in Unit D by a number of leisure operators including gym operators.
“If successful, the Class D2 use will provide an opportunity to accommodate the identified leisure demand at the established retail park which is well placed to serve residents in the north and west of Wrexham.
“The proposal therefore looks to maximise the future reoccupation of the vacant unit, ensure its long-term occupancy, which in turn will make a positive economic contribution to the area.
“Although the site comprises an out-of-centre location, it does comprise a well-established retail destination where the principle of main ‘town centre uses’ has been accepted.
“Indeed, the principle of a gym use within the retail park was previously established by the former use of Unit H (by Everlast Gym). Effectively the proposals seek to substitute one main town centre use (retail) for another main town centre use.”
It adds: “It has been demonstrated that no alternative site exists to accommodate the proposals. The proposals will introduce a gym operator to Plas Coch Retail Park, a use that was previously represented on the retail park. The development will maintain consumer choice for local residents.
“The proposal will also result in the reoccupation of a long-standing vacant unit and will ensure its long-term occupancy, which will in turn will make a positive economic contribution to the area.
“The new gym will create employment (circa 40-50 jobs) together with private sector investment in the local economy. These benefits are significant and should be afforded appropriate weight in the overall planning balance.”
Wrexham Council planners will make a decision on the proposals at a future date.