News

Former Olympic athlete behind gym plan for Chester Rows

Planning application lodged to turn offices into a gym
The location for the proposed new gym. Picture: Google

A boutique gym operator would like to open on the Rows next to Grosvenor Shopping Centre ’s Eastgate Street entrance.

Former UK 400m Olympic sprinter Tim Benjamin operates the 21-strong chain Fitness Space which hopes to occupy the second floor of Longus House in Newgate Row.

Building owners Aviva Investors have lodged a change of use planning application to allow offices to be used for ‘assembly and leisure’ instead, enabling the gym to go ahead.

Marketing exercises have failed to attract businesses into Longus House apart from Lego which has occupied a third floor suite since October, 2015. Interest was expressed by an Aparthotel operator but this didn’t progress.

A document supporting the plan states: “Fitness Space is a new boutique gym operator by former UK 400m Olympic finalist Tim Benjamin.

Tim Benjamin, who wants to bring his Fitness Space gym operation to Chester, pictured back in 2002 during the qualifying round of the men's 400 metres at the 18th European Championships in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

“The business model is to provide a highly personal approach to training workouts where each member has a personal fitness trainer and is supported by high-tech tools to give a fuller understanding and ownership over their health statistics, to boost results.

“The gym contrasts with the various existing budget gym business models which are on a larger scale and make exercise facilities available to members for individual use and represents a more personal environment to members.”

Access would be on foot by the existing stairway/lift within Grosvenor Shopping centre. No physical alterations are sought at this stage.

The applicants say the office space has been vacant for six years following a refurbishment of what was ‘poor quality’ vacant space.

A supporting letter by senior planner Jen Potter of Indigo Planning states: ”The proposal is to therefore convert the space for use as a gym, which will assist in bringing the building back into active use.”

Indigo says the development would also generate jobs as well as health and economic benefits including ‘vitality and viability’ in the city centre.

This is not the first time a gym has been based on the Rows. Dutch Houses Fitness Centre was located on Bridge Street Row for many years where Steamer Trading is now.