A PLANNED gym and community hub in Sealand to be visited by professional athletes, create new jobs and keep children away from gang culture has been given the go-ahead.

Flintshire Council’s planning department has approved changing the use of a unit on Drome Road to create a fitness centre, café and barbers, at the second time of asking.

Submitted by Sports for Champions UK (CIC), a not-for-profit organisation based in Deeside, the council rejected an initial application earlier this year.

Reasons given for refusal ranged from concerns about a lack of parking space to potential impact on the area’s character.

But before resubmitting their application, the applicants took council advice on their proposals.

In a covering letter, they explained: “Sports for Champions UK (CIC) is a not-for-profit organisation based in Deeside, they are a community interest company who have some volunteers and a small amount of funding, but they also employ 13 people and if permission is approved for this unit, it will create additional employment.

“This venture for a gymnasium would provide disadvantaged young people with an opportunity to get active and train with elite athletes. Classes will include free fitness lessons which not only keeps them active and off the streets but also teaches them how to respect others and themselves.

“They have partnered with Coleg Cambria and local children who have dropped out of school and are in transition of not knowing what to do with their lives, children who are extremely impressionable and vulnerable will now be offered the opportunity to experience the gym alongside coaching them to lead a positive life.

“They will be mentored by professional athletes who have come from a similar background but chose sport instead of joining a gang, with the athletes' and colleges' help they will put these young people through their personal training foundation courses level 2 and 3. They will then be able to offer them a full-time job as personal trainers in the gym.”

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Under the plans, the gym would be open to the public during lunch time 12pm-2pm, before work 7am-9am and after working hours 5pm–7pm.

The community café will also be available to the public and will provide hot food takeaway as well as a limited number of seats within the café area.

Eight parking spaces will also be provided.

The covering letter added: “The community hub will make a positive impact within the community for people of all ages to use, especially young people that have been identified by local Police Community Support Officers as vulnerable.

“They can use the facilities free of charge after school to keep them away from gang culture which is a growing problem in the area seeing older gang members travelling form Manchester and Liverpool area to recruit these kids to manage their county line drug operation.

“They will also be offering free gym memberships to people suffering from mental health problems referred from their GP, as exercise improves overall wellbeing and promotes the release of natural endorphins boosting mood and self-esteem.

“The community café will be offering free food to families struggling to feed themselves, anything left over will be donated to the local hostel that offers homeless people a roof over their heads free of charge for the night. The venture is truly inspiring and much needed, it offers a safe haven, kindness and hope for young people.

The Leader: The unit as it is currentlyThe unit as it is currently (Image: N/A)

“The site will also be available outside of teaching/coaching hours for the general public to use, and the company have decided to open the café up to provide food and takeaways to people working on the industrial estate where a special discount will be applied, providing an even greater community benefit.”

Although the unit on the industrial park is empty, the council planning department had considered whether allowing the hub to be granted would remove potential employment space.

But it has been determined that the lack of such facilities in the area outweighed this.

A planning officer report states: “Whilst the application does not meet the requirements regarding the use of the unit in the principal employment area, the applicant has provided justification as to the need for this facility in the location proposed and that there is a lack of suitable available units nearby.

“The loss of the employment use can therefore be justified in this instance and is considered acceptable under Policy PE6.

“It is considered that there would be no adverse effect on the highway or on the character and appearance of the principal employment area. The application is accordingly recommended for approval.”

Approval has been granted in a delegated decision signed off by the council’s chief planning officer Andrew Farrow.