Work has begun to transform a former Aldi store into a new 24-hour gym – breathing new life into the vacant unit and boosting council plans for a vibrant and thriving town centre.
Mid Suffolk District Council bought the empty unit in Gipping Way in September 2018 for £1.7m. The unit had previously been an Aldi, a Family Bargains and a Poundland, but had stood empty for 18 months when the council stepped in to help the town centre’s regeneration.
PureGym received planning permission in late 2019 to run a 24-hour gym in the unit, creating 13 full-time and two part-time jobs, but original timescales were then delayed by Covid-19.
This week however, the new tenant arrived on site to begin the long-awaited transformation, with facilities expected to include weight and exercise machines, free weights area and activity area – available to members 24/7. The new Stowmarket site is also being promoted on PureGym’s website ahead of its opening later this summer.
As well as increasing the choice of leisure facilities in the town, the building includes a further vacant space still available to let and paves the way for improvements to the neighbouring Union Street West car park – with new surface, lighting and updated pay and display machines.
Cllr Peter Gould, Mid Suffolk District Council Cabinet Member for Assets and Investment said: “This is great news for the town. At last, we can look forward to a new era for this unit, with a change of use from retail to leisure supporting our vision for bright and healthy futures for our residents, as well as bringing people into the town centre.”
Duncan Costin, Property Director of PureGym said: “PureGym is absolutely delighted to begin development on a new gym in Stowmarket, which will bring significant footfall and new jobs to the local area. The development of this new gym in Stowmarket solidifies PureGym’s commitment to UK expansion and providing affordable fitness to the nation.
“We know there is a huge appetite for gyms across the nation and as the biggest gym provider in the UK we look forward to welcoming members to our new site in Stowmarket later in the year and enabling them to pursue active and healthy lifestyles. We can’t wait to share more information about this site over the coming months.”
The investment by Mid Suffolk District Council is part of its wider vision for Stowmarket, working in partnership with businesses, stakeholders and cultural organisations including the Museum of East Anglian Life and Innovation Labs, to make Stowmarket a vibrant place to live, work, learn, visit and experience. Other town centre investments include buying the vacant former NatWest building in the Market Place – with the aim of enabling the expansion of the John Peel Centre – and the revamped Regal Theatre, due to open later this month.
Aldi, meanwhile, is also set to return to the town centre in a new purpose-built store on the opposite side of Gipping Way. The new Aldi, which has created a further 29 jobs in the town, is also due to open later this summer.
Cllr Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk District Council Cabinet Member for Economy said: “The level of investment that we are now seeing in Stowmarket is testament to the council’s commitment to the town and its recovery from the impact of the Covid. We will continue to support our high streets and local businesses so that our region not only bounces back but can look forward to a thriving future.”