A FORMER furniture store which shut down after a planning row could reopen as a low-cost gym.
The Furniture2Go site in Hendon Road, Sunderland, was left redundant and jobs lost almost two years ago, after business boss Paul Downey said he was forced to abandon the venture, after he did not realise he needed to apply for permission to change the use of the building.
The property had been turned into a shop from a clothing factory 12 years earlier, with planning inspectors throwing out his case twice, despite permission being given to install a new glass front and advertising flag pole, as no application was made for its retail use.
Now, a change of use proposal has been made by Gym 360 Sunderland, in a bid to gain approval to transform it from a warehouse into a gym, with its owners working alongside council bosses on the plans.
Nicola Connor, the firm’s managing director and a former model, already runs a branch in Pease Road, on Peterlee’s North West Industrial Estate.
She said: “The new site will create one of the biggest and most affordable gyms on the south side of Sunderland. As a North East girl I’m passionate about bringing great facilities at an affordable price to the region.
“On a personal note, I’m always eager to make use of unused buildings that can be brought back to life.
“The vacant Furniture2Go store is on a highly-visible route and it’s a shame that no one else has seen the potential to breathe new life back into this building and the wider community.”
If approved, the new gym will see more than 150 pieces of equipment being installed during phase one of the scheme, and membership to include access to a minimum of 40 classes each week and long opening hours.
Memberships are already being taken, with the firm hoping to open early this year.