Change of use planning approval for gym in South Downs National Park

We recently obtained planning approval for a change of use from B1 office to D2 gym on a site in a business park in Storrington, West Sussex.

The case:

The site falls just within the South Downs National Park (SDNP).  The SDNP Local Plan is due for adoption June 2017, therefore decision making would be guided by Horsham District Council Local Plan Policies.

We were under strict time constraints.  Our client needed to find a new location within the local area swiftly to ensure continuation of service for the existing client base.  There were no D2 spaces to rent locally, therefore our client was forced to seek a change of use application.

The key constraints were; justifying the loss of employment generating floor space (B1) and the introduction of a leisure facility outside of a town centre location.

Providing a strong evidence base:

Market research flagged that a number of business units in the local area were vacant, suggesting there was limited demand for this type of premises in the local area.

Local policy requires a minimum of 12 months marketing evidence. The site could not provide this, yet we identified material considerations that allowed the council to depart from this requirement.

Furthermore, our research flagged a nearby scheme where the case officer acknowledged the positive benefits of a D2 use, identifying that a gym would attract people to the area and may help to protect the vitality and viability of the town.

Therefore the application presented the opportunity to help a small local enterprise expand and bring back to life an empty office unit, in a sustainable location.

To assuage any concerns, we also proposed a condition to make the site a mixed-use unit which would revert back to B1 use if the fitness company leave the facility in the future.

The application was approved.

About us:

The Team at Plainview Planning regularly undertake change of use applications; from gyms, personal fitness and yoga studios through to medical clinics, offices, restaurants and places of worship.

Our experienced team can guide you through the process, constructing robust applications and negotiating effectively with case officers to help you achieve your planning goals.  If you require professional planning input with a change of use application, contact our team via