Fitness fanatic wins battle for new gym

Darren Harrison of Naburn Close Orrell in his gym which is to be extended
Darren Harrison of Naburn Close Orrell in his gym which is to be extended

A KEEP-FIT fanatic has won a battle with neighbours to build his family a new gym.

Darren Harrison - who has helped raise thousands for charity - wanted approval from the council for a two-storey side and rear extension at his home to re-house muscle-toning equipment and reclaim his garage.

But suspicious neighbours claimed the family was planning a commercial gymnasium business at their home in Naburn Drive, Orrell under cover of domestic use.

Almost a dozen residents signed a protest petition while two others sent in letter or protest.

Neighbour David Sass told the development committee in a written statement: “The original footprint is greatly exceeded. The structure of the roofing in particular has 10 tiled elevations which again can’t be observed on any other property on the development.”

Newly elected Ward Coun David Arrowsmith warned: ‘The proposed application is for a garage and personal gym, although the gym will not only be used by the owner but also allegedly by other people which will bring more traffic to a small cul-de-sac and cause problems to residents who need access to their properties.’

But Mr Harrison, one of the Catalan to Wembley cycle marathon team for the Steve Prescott RL Foundation raising cash for The Christie hospital, told councillors that the extension and the gym he would put in it were for wife Hannah and the family’s personal use.

He said: “At the moment we have a gym in the garage, which, with all the other domestic paraphernalia in there, means it is also impossible to get our car in there as well.

“There isn’t anything commercial here and there will be no loss of parking because there won’t be other people arriving to use it, just the family.”

Pemberton Labour Coun Jeanette Prescott said the extension answered all the council’s rules about height and distance from adjoining property.

She said: “Most young men have gym equipment in their homes these day and people’s perceptions are not valid planning reasons as far as I am concerned. But having a gym inside an extension is hardly going to stand out like a sore thumb in that residential situation, is it?”

Director of planning Steve Normington said that appropriate conditions would stop any commercial exploitation of the new extension.

He said: “If it becomes any part of a commercial scheme it must come back to planning with a fresh application, although, we can’t stop the family receiving visitors who may then be invited to use the gym equipment.”