The facility will occupy one of ten units which are under construction off D’Urton Lane and Eastway.
The remainder of the development - which sits alongside the Fulwood Central retail park - will remain reserved for industrial, storage and commercial use, in line with the planning permission granted for the site in 2020.
An operator for the gym has not yet been revealed, but the business will be allowed to open between 6am and 10pm, seven days a week, excluding bank holidays. It is expected to create three full-time and four part-time jobs.
Preston City Council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead for the change, but concerns were raised about the potential for the gym to increase the volume of traffic travelling to the location.
Lancashire County Council highways officers did not object to the proposal, although it was acknowledged in a report presented to the committee that “travel patterns and numbers could vary slightly” as result of the gym’s presence on the site.
Committee member Cllr Jennifer Mein noted that nearby residents were already “very unhappy” that permission had been granted for the development in its original form
She added: “I would have thought that having this unit as a gym [will mean that] there will be more cars toing and froing than [for] an industrial site, which will create excess road usage and noise.”
Cllr David Borrow also queried how easy it would be for pedestrians to gain access to the gym from the neighbouring Fulwood Central shops - which include an Aldi, B&M Bargains and Costa Coffee. He said that a trip to the retail park was likely to form part of a two-pronged visit to the area by gym users.
Planning officer Phil Cousins told the meeting that there was no direct footpath link between the sites, because of the “physical barrier” created by Moss Leach Brook. However, he said that the planning application included the construction of a path to join an existing one on Eastway - and added that access via the Guild Wheel, which runs through the area, was also an option.
Committee member James Hull said that a gym in another residential area of Preston had previously sparked complaints from locals who had seen their peace shattered by the “the dropping of heavy weights”.
Mr. Cousins said officers had judged that a gym was likely to generate less noise than the industrial use previously permitted for the unit.
Planning officers also stated that the facility would serve residents of the more than 5,000 homes being built in the North West Preston masterplan area over a 20-year period.
However, committee chair Peter Moss bemoaned a situation where people were being encouraged to “drive to the gym to [use] a walking machine”.
“I just find that really strange. Surely we should have a society where [people] have the ability to walk and exercise as part of their day,” Cllr Moss added.
The applicant, James Calderbank, had to demonstrate that there were no alternative sites suitable for the facility either within or close to existing retail centres - and the city council's planners concluded that he had done so.
They also noted that as one of the smallest units on the industrial estate, its use as a gum would not have a significant impact on the space allocated for the originally-intended industrial purposes.
The application was approved unanimously.
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