Archive for February, 2013

Two Darlington based sporting groups are celebrating after Prism Planning successfully guided their ambitious proposals to transform an empty warehouse into a permanent new activities centre for young people through the planning system.   Darlington Gymnastics Club and 4Motion extreme wheeled sports club feared their dream of changing the former Amdega warehouse on Faverdale Industrial Estate into a gymnasium and indoor BMX and skate park would not get past the first hurdle.

The two groups joined forces to find new premises which would allow the gym club to expand and its members to progress, and finally provide a base for riders and skate boarders.   But early informal discussions with Darlington Borough Council indicated that the scheme would not get permission because it meant the loss of an employment building.   Darlington planning consultants Prism Planning were then called on to take the plans forward and save the scheme.   Now council planning officers have agreed that it can go ahead and planning permission has been granted.   Principal Planning Consultant at Prism Rod Hepplewhite explained:

“This application centred on whether or not the council would allow some flexibility and not follow the strict planning policy line on the warehouse having an industrial use.   “Both clubs need a base with large open spaces and high roofs, which is only found in an industrial type building.  In the Faverdale warehouse they found the right building at the right price.   “The challenge was persuading council planning officers that changing the industrial use would have wider benefits for the community at large, especially in terms of promoting physical activity among young people. We conducted a comprehensive planning evaluation and secured a lot of support for the scheme.”

An open day and public consultation event attracted 244 people who broadly welcomed the plans, the neighbouring business wrote in support and no local residents objected.  Darlington MP Jenny Chapman and the Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Councillor Cyndi Hughes also gave their backing.   The development is expected to create five-eight new junior coaches jobs and increase the hours of the senior coaches, clerk and cleaner at the Gym Club, as well as creating seven jobs at 4Motion.   Darlington Gymnastics Club was set up in 1970 and has 540 members from the age of four who currently meet at a building in Weir Street, which the club has outgrown and is in disrepair.   The long term aim of the committee is to raise the performance of the club so that it becomes a centre of excellence not just in Darlington but across the region.   4Motion was established out of demand for coached extreme cycling.  The group had been searching for a base for two years.   The new centre will have refreshment facilities, 54 parking spaces and cycle stands.