TJ Hughes granted permission to open 24-hour gym in Newcastle store

The Bigg Market section of the discount department store is destined to be converted into a 24-hour sports club

TJ Hughes, in Newcastle's, Bigg Market
TJ Hughes, in Newcastle's, Bigg Market

Part of a Newcastle city centre department store could be converted into a 24-hour sports club in proposals granted conditional approval by planners.

T J Hughes has been given planning permission to change part of its retail space, allowing it to create a gym in part of its ground and first floors.

The plans only cover the Bigg Market part of the building. which, unlike the store’s Grainger Street entrance, is not classed as ‘primary shopping area’ in Newcastle City Council’s Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan.

Should the plans now go ahead, the retail giant will house the gym over 3,546sqft of space on two floors. Shutters will be installed to come down when the store closes.

No internal alterations need to be made, according to the submission, which states the gym will be open 24 hours a day, Monday to Sunday.

Planners have conditionally given the plans the go ahead, with officers saying T J Hughes’ plans fit in with the National Planning Policy Framework, which requires the planning system to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

In one planning report, the council department also say that core aims of providing leisure, health and wellbeing are also being met by creating new leisure and sports facilities.

Plans submitted to the council by Southport-based design agency SME Design Group on behalf of the Liverpool-headquartered discount department store show how, on the ground floor, out-of-hours access to the sports club will be via a lift to the first floor.

Lift doors to other floors will be locked off or shuttered.

A new full height glazed screen will be installed by escalators on the ground floor, which currently lead from the shoe department into the rest of the store, and a roller shutter will be put in place to close off the store out-of-hours.

Card controlled access would be installed at the Bigg Market entrance outside of store opening hours.

Planning permission has been granted on several conditions, including the development starting not later than April 2018.

A detailed noise survey, including an assessment of the impact of vibration from any gym equipment, plus a scheme for sound insulation between the residential and commercial uses must also be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

It was back in 2011 that the TJ Hughes store was one of a handful bought out of administration by Lewis’s Home Retail, a company owned by The Benross Group, preventing the loss of 76 jobs.

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