Majestics gym fights for survival

March 04 2021

THOUSANDS of children a week could miss out on exercise if a local gymnastics club is forced to close.

Majestic Gymnastic Academy has been running for 10 years, seven of which have been at its current site on Marsham Way, part of Longwell Green trading estate and shopping area.

But plans submitted to South Gloucestershire Council to redevelop the site would see the facility razed to the ground.

Owners Michelle George and Candice Fry are devastated and have already garnered more than 1,000 signatures on a petition through their Facebook page. More than 100 letters of objection have already been submitted to the council.

The facility is used by more than 1,000 youngsters every week, from pre-schoolers right up to elite national and international athletes. It is also a popular venue for birthday parties, is used weekly by Culverhill School for children with complex learning difficulties, and runs parkour sessions.

Michelle, 40, from Hanham, said the new owners had always said Majestic would remain when the area was redeveloped.

She said: “We’ve been up to London to meet with them and were shown plans with Majestic in it. But the plans they’ve submitted to the council don’t include us at all.  

"We’ve asked whether we’d be able to have a different building within the development and they said we wouldn’t be able to afford it as the rent would be double what we pay now.”

Candice, 35, from Kingswood, said they had employed a solicitor who has said they have a good case because there are no similar facilities nearby.

She said: “Under the planning laws they need to find a suitable replacement for us. When we already have Outfit and Café Nero closed down and standing empty, there isn’t a need to create more buildings that no one can fill.”

The centre is the only place in the region that specialises in TeamGym, where gymnasts perform in a coordinated group. 

It requires specialist training areas in a long, narrow building and Sport England has spent £50,000 kitting out the current building with the correct flooring and equipment specific to TeamGym. 

Four Majestic athletes have been selected to represent Great Britain in the European TeamGym Championships taking place in Portugal this December. If they lose Majestic, the next nearest TeamGym training facility is nearly 100 miles away in Bracknall.

Seven full-time and 15 part-time coaches and support staff stand to lose their jobs.

Training programmes for coaches and young leaders would also have to be scrapped if the building goes.

As well as Majestic Gymnastics, the neighbouring Flip Out inflatable play arena will also be removed under the plans, taking away two of the main places for local children to exercise indoors.

The plans from developer West Midland Authority Pension Fund propose replacing most of the warehouse-style buildings alongside Aldermoor Way and Marsham Way, including the former Saville’s Freight Depot with work space, retail or leisure outlets plus a drive-through restaurant or a hotel, creating 411 new jobs.

As part of the planning statement, the developer said circumstances had changed since they bought the building in 2019.