Retail giant JD Sports is aiming to transform one of the biggest stores on Newcastle’s main shopping street into a gym and shopping complex.
The fashion and sportswear company already operates a sizeable store on Northumberland Street, but the firm is now hoping to expand when its next door neighbour – the music, film and game shop HMV – moves out.
HMV is on the move to Intu Eldon Square, to the former site of Sports Direct, opening its new store next Thursday.
That leaves the huge glass-fronted building available – and JD Sports has already applied to Newcastle City Council for planning permission to convert the block of two buildings into a massive leisure and retail complex, with a gym covering two floors.
A planning application to develop the two buildings has been submitted to Newcastle City Council, outlining the changes, which would see new frontage created on the ground floor, which will sell JD Sports’ fashion clothing and footwear. The basement area will also be used for retail.
To the left of the main entrance, fitness fans will be able to find their way upstairs to the JD Sports Gym – a two-floor complex boasting eight exercise areas.
The sports fashion name announced plans in January to expand further into leisure, by opening its own chain of value gyms.
That plan began in Hull, where it signed a 10-year lease for a former Fitness First gym, transformed it under the new JD Gyms brand and opened on February 28, with memberships starting at £9.99 a month.
The firm took on Alun Peacock, former national operational manager of at DW Sports Fitness, to spearhead the new JD Gyms.
The two-floor gym – based on the first and second floors – would have two cardio areas with more than 70 machines, two strength zone with dozens of weight machines, a studio to host classes, a freeweight zone and a spinclass section for as many as 40 participants. A large changing area with showers and two saunas is also on the plan.
The development represents the latest move in a continuing game of music chairs that has unfolded in Newcastle City Centre.
HMV’s move to Eldon Square after 18 years in the Northumberland Street site has only been made possible by Sports Directs’ move from that store to the former Peacocks store at the bottom of the street.
The opening of Intu Eldon Square’s newest mall in 2010, also saw Next move from its home in Northumberland Street to St Andrew’s Way, allowing BHS to move into the building it vacated.
In turn, Primark then transformed the former BHS site into one of Newcastle’s largest retail ventures, a huge glass-fronted store covering four floors.
Mike Birkett of real estate firm BNP Paribas said: “Northumberland Street has changed a lot in recent times and the transformation seems to be working its way down the street from BHS.
“When you look at Newcastle and the Metrocentre both are trading exceptionally well and now Intu are going to work on their restaurant plans which I hear have all been pre-let.”