Bromsgrove martial arts club could leave town due to restricted hours

Bromsgrove Advertiser: LEAVING TOWN?: The Verve martial arts club says restricted opening hours could mean it is forced out of Bromsgrove. SP LEAVING TOWN?: The Verve martial arts club says restricted opening hours could mean it is forced out of Bromsgrove. SP

THE owner of a Bromsgrove martial arts club says he may have to move it out of town due to the council's restrictions on its opening hours.

John Swift runs Verve Martial Arts, based at Sherwood House in Sherwood Road, Aston Fields.

The business was originally set up in 2003, with classes run at the Dolphin Centre.

But as the club was faced with financial difficulties, it was moved to its current home at the Aston Fields site in 2011.

Mr Swift said he checked with Bromsgrove District Council at the time whether the club would need planning permission for the new site, but was told this was not needed and he could run the club during normal working hours, and hold evening classes.

However the club was later told it would need permission, and without it the club would have to close.

In October permission was granted, despite being recommended for refusal by officers, and the club and is 500 plus members celebrated.

But in giving it the green light, the authority's planning committee placed restrictions on the opening hours meaning the club could only open between 9.30am and 9pm on weekdays, and 10am and 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The reason the committee gave for the restrictions was to ensure the amenity of nearby properties was maintained.

But Mr Swift told the Advertiser since the hours restriction came in it had significantly damaged the business.

He explained that the loss of one of the the club's most popular sessions, the 6-9pm class held on Sunday evenings, had been particularly damaging.

He said the loss of income had already led to a cut in the staff's hours, with one member of staff even being made redundant.

Mr Swift said: "We stand to lose more than £20,000 a year, because of the restricted hours.

"We attract business from all around the world. We are bringing people to town - the council should be supporting us.

"As a business man I always hope for the best and plan for the worse, but at the moment this project is unsustainable, and we may have to move from Bromsgrove."

The club has appealed the opening hours restrictions, and is currently waiting for a verdict to be given by the planning inspectorate.

A Bromsgrove District Council spokesman said: "Planning permission has been granted for Verve to operate from their premises at Sherwood House for their business of storage and distribution, martial arts classes and children's parties.

"The hours of operations condition allows Verve to operate at weekends, also taking into account the other businesses with which they share a car park and the wider amenities of other uses of Sherwood Road.

“Verve has taken up their right to an appeal against the condition, which the planning inspectorate will now determine.

"We have submitted all the required information to the inspectorate, who will make a decision on the appeal in due course.”

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