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‘Archaic’ town planning laws are blocking gyms and facilitating bookies and fried chicken shops, says ukactive

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“Archaic” town planning laws are blocking fitness businesses from having impactful presences on English high streets which are “drowning in betting shops and fried chicken joints”, according to the chair of ukactive.

Talking at the fitness body’s Sweat conference, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said the government should plot a radical overhaul of regulations to make it easier for gyms and health clubs to reach more of the population.

England’s National Planning Policy Framework currently stipulates that gyms and leisure centres can only occupy Class D2 category buildings, whereas retail shops can occupy “far more abundant” Call A1 buildings – i.e. on the high street.

“Archaic planning laws currently make it easier to open takeaways and betting shops than businesses that make a positive contribution – economically, socially and physically – to the community,” said the Paralympic legend.

Calling for more flexible business rates for fitness companies, she added: “Fitness operators breathe life and vibrancy into high streets which are drowning in a sea of betting shops, fried chicken joints and empty shop windows that they have the ability to fill.”

Research by the Royal Society of Public Health has found unhealthy high streets are commonly linked to deprived areas and towns with a larger proportion of people suffering with ill health.

Areas in the North and the Midlands are among the worst affected.

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“Archaic” town planning laws are blocking fitness businesses from having impactful presences on English high streets which are “drowning in betting shops and fried chicken joints”, according to the chair of ukactive.
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Grey-Thompson said that fitness operators would breathe life into the high street
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