Is Stowmarket 24-hour gym plan still happening?

The old Poundland in Stowmarket will become a new 24-hour gym after Mid Suffolk District Council's d

The former Aldi and Poundland unit in Gipping Way, Stowmarket, which will become a PureGym - Credit: Archant

Plans for the former Aldi and Poundland store in Stowmarket to be developed as a 24-hour gym are still happening, the council has confirmed - with an expectation it will open in summer 2021.

Mid Suffolk District Council bought the empty unit in Gipping Way in September 2018, which at that time had already been empty for 18 months.

In December last year, the council's development control committee gave planning permission for PureGym to run a 24-hour gym in the unit, set to create 13 full-time and two part-time jobs.

However, plans have not progressed in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. A freedom of information request revealed the council paid £1.7million for the facility but has yet to take a single penny in income from it.

But the authority said the gym plan is still on course, and sources indicate the fit-out of the unit is planned in the spring ahead of a summer opening.

A spokeswoman from the council said: "Mid Suffolk District Council welcomes proposals for a new gym at the former Poundland site in Stowmarket, encouraging further use of the town centre and supporting our ambition for bright and healthy futures for our residents.

"Works have been undertaken to prepare the building for let and we anticipate occupation by the tenant in spring 2021.

"This is exciting news for the town - and the new leisure facility will support our council's vision for Stowmarket to be a great place to live, work, learn, visit and experience."

The unit was considered unfavourable for retailers as its frontage does not lie with the main frontage of other stores there, which means the passing footfall is reduced.

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In its application last year, PureGym said: "A leisure use such as the proposed gym is more of a target destination and as such is less reliant on passing trade, yet is a viable, functional part of a broader leisure offer within the town centre."

Aldi meanwhile has this week confirmed the opening of its new premises in Gipping Way will be in May 2021, creating 29 jobs.

Those plans were submitted in 2018 and approved late last year.