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Ellon gym to remain open following Scottish Ministers decision

By Kirstie Topp - Local Democracy Reporter

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An Ellon gym has had a weight taken off its shoulders as Scottish Ministers have ruled it can stay open despite councillors voting to refuse it.

Arena Strength and Fitness Gym’s plan to open at the rear of the town’s Greens store was initially thrown out by councillors last February.

Members of the Formartine area committee were worried the new venue would cause parking and road safety issues on Schoolhill Road.

However, Aberdeenshire Council accidentally issued the owners with an approval notice following a “systems error”.

The local authority applied to the Scottish Government in a bid to stop the development and a revocation order was issued in March.

But one year on, Scottish Ministers have agreed not to revoke the planning permission.

Reporter Amanda Chisholm was appointed to look into the matter.

She visited the gym in October and a public hearing was held to give the gym owners, residents and council officers the chance to air their concerns.

Ms Chisholm noted the look of the building had changed, but said it was just a “minor” amendment and wasn’t enough to change the character of the area.

Following the public meeting, the reporter noted that there had been no problems with noise from the gym.

Arena owners explained at the hearing that gym members use headphones while working out and there are no speakers for amplified music.

This was enough to please Ms Chisholm who said: “Third parties are content to have Arena as a neighbour and do not wish to see the gym closed.”

Since the gym opened, several residents who previously raised disturbance concerns indicated they had “little or no difficulty in relation to noise”.

They also believed the gym owners would take action if any trouble were to arise.

The Arena gym opened its doors to customers last May and it has been welcomed by the community.

The Ellon Under-16 Girls football team attend the venue for weekly strength and conditioning training.

Between June and September last year, membership at the gym grew from 72 to 121.

While traffic on Schoolhill Road has increased, Ms Chisholm argued it wasn’t enough to negatively impact surrounding residents.

Summing up the matter, the reporter said: “I find the principle of development in this location is supported.

“There are no material considerations that would change my conclusion.”

Taking to social media, gym staff confirmed the approval and said they were delighted to have “won the battle against the local council”.

They added: “It’s only taken two years but we got the desired result in the end.

“To celebrate, we will be adding some more equipment to the gym for our members within the next three weeks.”

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