Published: 06:00, 28 April 2019
| Updated: 19:53, 28 April 2019
Plans for a 24-hour fitness centre have been approved.
The proposals to launch the all-day gym in a 1,000 sq m building next to the new Sainsbury’s store in Broomfield were submitted in February.
It will be leased out by the supermarket chain and operated by US company Snap Fitness, which has centres in 19 countries.
The company will also open one in Queenborough this summer.
Council documents reveal Kent Police had raised fears the car park could be used for “nefarious activities” if it was to remain open all day.
Despite this, planning officers decided to grant the application, believing it “would not result in any undue noise and disturbance”.
Neil Mason, from Active Life, which runs Herons Leisure Centre in William Street, believes the planned gym will damage trade.
“I’m sure it will take a proportion of our members,” he said.
“We’ll have to look at our business planning because we can’t ignore it, but we can’t feel too threatened because we have a different offering.
“We cut across activities like swimming, badminton and five-a-side football; so we’re particularly appealing to families and those who like to mix up their training.”
When approached, Sainsbury's would not reveal an opening date.
“The impact on us would be huge and very damaging...." Sevvy Enfield from Urban Fitness
In its planning statement, the supermarket says Snap Fitness is hoping to provide “24/7 gym access, flexible memberships and modern equipment” across one floor.
Sevvy Enfield, who runs Urban Fitness in New Street, previously told KentOnline he feared the proposed sports centre could poach his customers.
He said: “The impact on us would be huge and very damaging.
“Large chains are able to undercut prices in order to drive business away from small businesses that are unable to maintain direct competition with them due to the huge gulf in financial power and available resources.
“We will inevitably lose valuable members and custom, which could become unsustainable.
“Unfortunately, this is just another example of local businesses suffering at the hands of large chains.”
Mr Enfield added that he had been discussing the possibility of relocating his business to the vacant building on the Altira Business Park with Sainsbury’s, but nothing materialised.
Planning documents reveal the food giant was considering renting the building to a retailer if the application was refused.
More by this authorJack Dyson