By Tristan Harris Friday 04 October 2013 Updated: 05/10 00:51
A POPULAR and successful Bromsgrove martial arts club which has 220 members and employs six instructors may be forced to close if it fails to get planning permission on Monday (October 7).
Bromsgrove District Council planning officers have recommended the retrospective application for Verve Martial Arts on Sherwood Road be refused on grounds the land should be used for employment purposes not leisure.
Owner John Swift launched the venture, which combines a martial arts clothing supply business with classes, in 2003. He originally ran sessions three nights a week at the town’s Dolphin Centre and at South Bromsgrove High School but increasing overheads meant that became financially unviable.
Then, in 2011, with the club facing financial difficulties and the threat of closure, he moved the business to the Aston Fields unit with the distribution operating in the daytime - from 9am to 5pm - and a training area for the clubs on four of the evenings - 6pm to 9pm.
He said six months before the move in 2011, he wrote to Bromsgrove District Council to check he was able to do that and did not need any planning permission and was told that was acceptable.
Then in December, around the same time as Verve was shortlisted for the district council’s 2012 Club of the Year sports award, he was told planning permission was needed and if he did not get it, the club would have to close.
Since then, a planning application to enable the club to continue has been refused by officers and this is a last-ditch attempt to save it.
A petition containing 610 signatures and an email from ward councillor Sean Shannon in support of the Verve proposal have been submitted to the council.
Members must consider on Monday whether the proposed use is acceptable on land designated for employment purposes and whether the proposed leisure use outside of the town centre or edge of centre location is justified.
The planning report also states the unit Verve is based in was marketed unsuccessfully for industrial use from November 2009 until September 2011, when the club moved in.
Mr Swift said he hoped the planning committee members would approve the application.
“We pride ourselves on being a family focused group, which promotes healthy living and lifestyle.
“It would be a shame if we had to move out of Bromsgrove and, sadly, it would be the community which would lose out.”
THIS weekend sees the start of a host
THERE was a special party at Wayside Nursing
BROMSGROVE Police have moved to quell rumours about
THERE are a variety of events taking place
A BOOK of condolences has been opened to allow residents ...
THE DEMAND for new homes in the district is greater ...
AS WE get ready to launch the Worcester Observer next ...