Worthing children’s gymnastics group ‘devastated’ by planning decision

A children’s gymnastics company has said it is ‘truly devastated’ at being refused a permanent home in Worthing.

Members of The Gymnastics Company SUS-190320-171022001
Members of The Gymnastics Company SUS-190320-171022001

The Gymnastics Company, also known as Gymco, was denied permission to convert an industrial unit in Woods Way, into a permanent facility at a meeting of Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee in February.

With the committee split, the decision came down to chairman Paul Yallop’s vote, who rejected the application in favour of council policy to preserve industrial space.

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“As a club we just want what is best for our gymnasts, coaches and the community,” a spokesman for the club said.

“We are truly devastated by Paul’s decision. We run six mornings a week and five evenings a week and if we had the chance we would run more, we have got so much more we want to offer.

“We struggle for space, we cannot clear our waiting lists and we are unable to purchase the right equipment as we need a full time venue. When this one glimmer of hope was taken from us, it really was heartbreaking.

“The club has been running for 11 years and it is run through hard work, passion and dedication, and we need to expand but sadly we are unable to. We can only hope and pray that one day we will find a permanent home.”

Gymco sessions are attended by 379 children, according to a planning report, with a 100-strong waiting list, and operates from Field Place, Thomas a Becket Junior School and West Park School.

Mr Yallop described the decision as his ‘most difficult’ in two years as chairman and published a Facebook statement defending his vote.

The statement said he was ‘hugely impressed’ by the people that spoke in favour, but that he was driven by council policy, and that judging which of the many community groups were most deserving of a space would create division.

He also said losing industrial units would limit space available to small businesses and, as the unit was under renovation, he felt it would be relatively easy to find an industrial tenant.

A possible solution was extending the football facilities at Palatine Park, he said, which could be funded by the rent Gymco would pay for the Woods Way unit.

He also suggested incorporating community space into the new West Durrington housing estate.