THE FUTURE of a cheerleading club was secured on Monday as councillors granted planning permission for its new facility.
Zodiac Allstars had outgrown the space it shared at a gym in Lancing Business Park and applied for a change of use of another site in the park.
A ‘record’ crowd whooped and cheered as Adur Planning Committee overturned the recommendation to refuse the application at the Adur Civic Centre, in Ham Road, Shoreham.
Addressing the committee, owner Andy Wicks said: “We have worked extremely hard to find alternative premises but no alternative has been identified.
“Regrettably without alternative premises it is highly likely that the club will close.”
The committee heard the council was not satisfied there was a lack of demand for commercial premises at the park, with the change of use from business to assembly and leisure likely to have a detrimental effect on the economy.
Substitute member Pat Beresford, also cabinet member for regeneration, spoke against the application on those grounds.
A report to the committee highlighted a lack of business space in Adur, with 98.6 per cent of the total floor space at Lancing Business Park is occupied or under offer, with 99.7 per cent of the industrial and warehouse floor space occupied or under offer.
But Mr Wicks hit back, stating his intention to employ nine members of staff.
Councillor Emma Evans said: “For me this is a no-brainer, really. Where would all those children be otherwise, if they didn’t have this facility?
“There is nowhere else for them to do and we should be welcoming them with open arms.”
The group flies out to Florida on Saturday to compete in the Cheerleading World Championships – the first team in the region to compete at the event.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Wicks said: “We feel fantastic. We have worked really hard to try and get these kids this unit and they are absolutely ecstatic.
“We hoped for the outcome we got and thought everything was in our favour.
Chairman Peter Metcalfe thanked the scores of cheerleaders and families who attended the meeting to support Mr Wicks, stating his belief it was a record crowd for the committee.
As councillors voted to support the application, the crowd also raised their hands in support.
Only Mr Beresford voted against the proposal to approve the application.
Councillor Geoff Patmore said: “I thought this was an audition for Britain’s Got Talent at first.
“I support this application 100 per cent and good luck to you all.”
Mr Wicks and his team will begin finalising plans for the new unit this week, with works scheduled to begin at the start of May.