Fitness instructor’s plan to turn Earby industrial unit into martial arts center

A martial arts instructor wants to transform a vacant unit in a former cotton weaving mill into an indoor fitness and sports centre.

Lauren Stott has applied to Pendle Borough Council for permission to change Unit 11 in Sough Bridge Mill on Colne Road, Earby, from a general industrial storage unit into an indoor fitness and sports premises.

The proposed use includes the teaching of martial arts, self-defense and general fitness for the community, with provision of grading/examination, and functions.

Sough Bridge Mill is currently a mixed-use site, with some units involving customer/public-facing services, but Unit 11 is vacant, although it has previously been used as a medal/engravers shop, and up until around 12 months ago was used for storing carpets and flooring.

The site has an existing car parking provision with space for 27 vehicles and Mrs Scott, if successful with her application, plans to open the fitness center between the hours of 4.30pm and 8pm from Monday to Friday and from 9am until 12pm on Saturdays, offering classes for infants, beginners and advanced students, with three classes running per evening during the week.

Currently using the Civic Hall in Barnoldswick, if successful with her application Mrs Stott plans to provide a more permanent base within Sough Bridge Mill for the martial arts classes.

Supporting documents submitted to Pendle Council alongside the application read: “It will provide a safe environment in which these groups can improve their levels of health and fitness with a focus on the core tenets of the martial arts; courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.

“The building of these life skills alongside improved fitness, particularly among the younger generations, improves confidence and wellbeing, increases healthy life expectancy and improves education outcomes by fostering disciplined children with strong attention skills.

“The proposers currently provide Taekwondo lessons from a temporary venue in Barnoldswick, and have done so for many years. This has produced a number of black belts, some of whom have competed at national level.

“This, along with the continued success of the club which attracts members from surrounding villages, demonstrates that there is a strong local appetite for a center of this nature.

“A more permanent venue could provide a more professional facility furnished with better equipment to help members achieve their aspirations and full potential, whether that’s county, national or Olympic level.

“The proposers have experience of working with children and schools in the local area to provide anti-bullying awareness.

“Martial art and self-defence lessons incorporate these principles and therefore have a positive impact on the local community, delivering individuals with strong ethics, well-rounded natures, and conviction to achieve their full potential.

“Community research demonstrates that communities want more activities, more opportunities and a better life. If encouraged, members of those communities will take part in activities which aren’t necessarily the cultural norm.

“Community consultations have shown a need for increased access to sport and recreational facilities and a need for parent/family support.”

A refurbishment would be needed and though not substantial, would create some work for local tradespeople and would in turn help preserve that part of the mill and its longevity in terms of the local historic environment.

Mrs Stott has highlighted that because the unit has been vacant it offers no current contribution to achieving objectives of the Leveling-up and Regeneration Policy and therefore there would be no adverse impacts of the proposed change of use.

Only two objections have been made so far, both citing car parking as a concern for nearby residents and other visitors to the mill.

Anyone wishing to comment further on the proposals can do so online via the Pendle Planning portal or by writing to the planning department before August 1.

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