Published: 09:16, 25 April 2019
| Updated: 09:17, 25 April 2019
Proposals for a new discount store and 24-hour gym at a former Toys R Us store have been given the go-ahead by councillors.
Medway Council’s planning committee last night unanimously supported the scheme which will see a 2,002 sq m Home Bargains and 1,700 sq m UFC Gym move into the Horsted Retail Park unit in Chatham.
It is hoped 88 full-time and part-time jobs will be generated, with the “majority” available to local residents.
Applicant Royal London UK Estate Fund claimed it had been unable to find a business which could make use of the whole site on its own, meaning subdivision of the unit was necessary.
Some objections were submitted to the council over fears the development – alongside the already-approved Aldi and KFC – could have a negative impact on the already busy road network in the area.
Members accepted there were already queues “before you even start putting everything else there”, but felt new highway improvements will help ease any problems.
Cllr Martin Potter (Con) said: “The applicant has done an awful lot of work to demonstrate that we will not have the issues we’re concerned about.
"At this stage, I don’t think there’s any more we can do to satisfy ourselves.”
The previous owners of the Pentagon Shopping Centre also opposed the application having suggested UFC Gym could have made use of its available first-floor space, but this was rejected by council officers.
Planning permission was only required because of the "change of use" for the UFC Gym and the fact Home Bargains wishes to sell food, which is against the original conditions put against the site back in 1986.
Cllr Vince Maple (Lab) added: “I want to recognise it’s quite exciting to have what I think is the first UFC Gym in the region.
"I’m not going to be challenging Connor McGregor any time soon, but it is interesting to see.
“I think this will have popularity far beyond Medway’s reach actually, and I think we’ll see people coming from far and wide to use that. Having it in Medway is a positive thing.
“I will be supporting this, but I do support comments about making sure that the traffic problems in this whole area are kept under close review.”
More by this authorDean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter