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Gym owners joy at new sports plan success

PUBLISHED: 13:35 03 December 2009 | UPDATED: 17:24 25 August 2010

DREAM SCHEME

DREAM SCHEME

GYM owners are delighted their new home is one step closer after plans were given the go ahead by councillors. Len and Yvonne Arnold, who both live in and run the Europa Gym in Fraser Road, Erith, have been struggling for nearly two years to stay afloat

GYM owners are delighted their new home is one step closer after plans were given the go ahead by councillors.

Len and Yvonne Arnold, who both live in and run the Europa Gym in Fraser Road, Erith, have been struggling for nearly two years to stay afloat after the centre's rent doubled.

The club is home to weightlifter Zoe Smith, 15, from Abbey Wood, who has already been chosen for Team GB in the London 2012 Olympic Games and has several young hopefuls in boxing and gymnastics that could soon prove to be medal material.

Last Thursday Bexley councillors approved the planning application by Barratt Homes to allow a club to be built on the site of the former Samos Roneo factory in Maiden Lane, Crayford.

As part of the application Barratt plan to give the gym land and £1.5million, as part of their scheme to build up to 254 residential units, with parking and landscaping.

Mr Arnold said: "We are over the moon. It is an amazing step forward for the club. It has been a struggle these past few years, what with rent rises. It was nice for it to go through unanimously and have no objections to it.

"It will be seen as a true legacy on the back of London 2012."

Now the plans have to be approved by the Mayor of London.

Earlier this year, plans had to be modified after one of London's Deputy Mayors under Boris Johnson's delegation powers, deemed the application not to be in keeping with the London Plan.

Mr Arnold said: "I am confident that the Mayor of London will okay it. We have spoken to people from the Greater London Authority (GLA) and we think it will pass. The scheme has been brought up to the level they required. But you never know how these things will go."

Funding applications submitted by Mr and Mrs Arnold to plug the funding gap, are currently being considered by various different funding bodies.

Mr Arnold estimates that the £1.5million being offered by Barratt, will only pay for one quarter to a third of the building work.

He said: "Because it is being built on a flood plain, you have to build it on pillars and that costs more money.

"If everything goes according to plan, we are hoping the gym's new home will be finished by the middle of 2011."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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