Sunday, June 16, 2024

Fitness centre plans submitted for old library in Bideford

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Plans to change Bideford’s old library into a sport and fitness centre have been submitted.

Its owner, Torridge District Council, has applied to itself as the planning authority to change the use of the Grade II listed building.

The centre would be run by a company the council set up to manage its leisure facilities, Active Torridge.

The building has been vacant for a year after a new library was opened by Devon County Council in a renovated arts centre at the other end of town.

Torridge says the changes will have little or no impact on the heritage asset of the building which is attached to the town hall, but they will require listed building consent.

A specialist gym floor and plywood would cover the parquet floor to protect it, and the vaulted ceilings would stay to create “a unique space for people to undertake fitness classes and training” .

The plan is for a gym split into cardio/functional and free weights area, a multi-function studio, training/consultation room, reception area, offices and a vending machine.

It includes removing a stud wall to open the original steps into the former library from the town hall. There will also be improved toilets and showers for users of the gym.

The prominent red brick and limestone building sits at the end Bideford’s Grade I listed Longbridge. There are plans to repair and decorate the library with lime plaster and paints in keeping with its heritage status.

Active Torridge runs three leisure centres in Northam, Holsworthy and Torrington, and the district council says a fourth facility will enable it to cater for more residents, with specialist sessions in the centre of Bideford.

But the move has created controversy, with many people suggesting it should be a museum.

People have until Friday 7 June to have their say.

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