A sports and social club in Horsham has been given permission for the second time to convert its indoor rifle range into a gym.
The application from the Holbrook Club, in North Heath Lane, was put before a meeting of the district council’s planning committee on October 2.
Permission had been given for a similar application in June 2014, but had since expired.
Councillors were warned that the club, which already has a gym, would likely close within a few years if the rifle range stayed.
Applicant Matthew Russell told the meeting the range had been under-used for a number of years and had only 58 members on its books.
Mr Russell said he was very confident the gym would be successful and hoped it would attract around 400 users.
He added: “As much as we would love to continue to service niche sports such as shooting, our current financial position makes this unviable.
“To put it simply, if we keep the rifle range as a rifle range then the club will unlikely to be around in a few years time and will probably close, along with 54 jobs being lost.”
The application included a new main entrance to the building, fire escapes to the north and south, the installation of three roof lanterns and three air conditioning units.
The application attracted 19 objections, 16 from club members. As well as objecting to the loss of the range, their concerns included the parking capacity and the impact on neighbours.
There were 17 letters of support, which said the gym would add to the current facilities and be good for the community.
Karen Burgess (Con, Holbrook East) said: “The Holbrook Club recently surrendered a third of their green land so the landlords could build housing. This was not surplus land as reported.
“Consequently, there is a need to generate income, and the conversion of an under-used rifle range into a gym is a way of making a start to this.
“This facility, the Holbrook Club, is a valued community asset, not just for north Horsham but for the town completely.”
Land east of the club is being redeveloped, with 58 new homes being built as part of plans linked to the creation of a new football ground for Horsham FC at Hop Oast.