A gymnastics club made homeless by the closure of Hallglen Sports Centre has found new premises in an industrial estate in Larbert.
Forth Valley Gymnastics Club members were relieved when members of Falkirk Council’s planning committee agreed to grant planning permission for the club to use a vacant unit in Lochlands Industrial Estate.
Planning officials had recommended refusing the club permission to move to what is classed as an industrial area because of safety fears for children.
They claimed the area behind Xtreme Carting and Delta Studios is actually a turning point that could be used by lorries and it would not be suitable to drop children off there.
But Councillor Niall Coleman, who was given permission to address the planning committee, argued persuasively that there was in fact no danger – as the neighbours that the gymnastics club would have are both already leisure facilities.
He said: “The tarmac area that is described as a lorry turning area is, in fact, a car park.”
He argued that refusing the club planning permission and then giving it to a industrial business would actually create danger for the many people who use Delta Studios and Xtreme Carting.
Ian Dryden, of Falkirk Council’s planning department explained that the area is for industrial use but the carting was felt to fit in well as there were no worries about noise, which you’d get in an urban area.
But he also admitted that Delta Studios – which holds art classes and exhibitions as well as dance classes – had been flying “below the planning radar”.
He said he had not been aware of it until recently but as it has been in existence for 17 years there is no way to take any enforcement action.
Speaking on behalf of the club, agent Ann Cunningham said they needed a hall with high ceilings, a large floor space and lots of space for equipment – and it was proving extremely difficult to get such a venue.
She said: “For a community club to disappear because it can’t get a suitable venue would be terribly sad.”
Councillor Joan Coombes said she was prepared to be a “lone voice” but she did have concerns about how far away it was from Hallglen and the lack of public transport.
However, Councillor Laura Murtagh said two regular buses went from Hallglen to Larbert and it was a 10-minute walk from the viaduct.
The rest of the planning committee were supportive of the move and agreed to grant planning permission.