A petition has been launched to ask Chichester District Council to reconsider a rejected planning application for a health complex in Selsey.
The £1.7m project, funded privately by Checkatrade founder Kevin Byrne, began construction as office space but could not be taken on by the company’s new owners.
Mr Byrne’s plan to repurpose the building as a private gym was halted in its tracks by a refusal of permission in July due to policy relating to a loss of employment space.
The online petition at 38degrees.org.uk has reached 388 signatures, with comments from Observer readers this week also expressing frustration the plans had been refused.
Donna Pettitt commented on Facebook: “I think it would have been a massive boost for Selsey’s community, something for everyone. Shame it’s been rejected.”
Tracy Austin responded: “Can’t believe, well I can, how narrow minded the council is being! This seemed like a great project!”
Craig Dann said the complex was ‘definitely needed’. He wrote: “This guy wants to invest in the village...better than empty units like the 6/8 or so in the high street.”
Some readers questioned whether the area needed more gyms, with another recently given permission for a former business unit in the High Street.
But Greg Smith, from Core Results, who had been hoping to run the gym facility, said it would have offered something ‘completely different’.
He wrote: “Some need a far more supportive environment in which to get back into health and fitness.
“This facility would not appeal to everyone, but at least it was appealing to a segment of the population that is currently not provided for in Selsey.”
Mr Byrne said he was considering appealing the decision.
He said: “The reaction to this refusal has been overwhelming with virtually everyone shocked and stunned at the lack of judgment from CDC.”