A GALASHIELS gym facing potential closure has been saved after a committee voted to overrule the council’s planning officers.

Fitness Refinery, located on the Netherdale industrial estate, was at the centre of a long-running planning row after a retrospective bid to change the use of a unit was refused earlier this year.

But when Scottish Borders Council’s (SBC) local review body met on Monday (October 17), the committee of elected members unanimously approved the application.

Gym owner Dania McFarlane said the verdict was a “huge weight” off her shoulders.

She said: “I’m very pleased obviously that it has been put through. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders. I will have had the business there for two years in November and it would have been a shock having to close and the members would have been really disappointed.”

A change of use bid was submitted for Fitness Refinery – which had been operating without planning approval for a year – in January.

The application received a number of letters of support but was knocked back by SBC planning chiefs over the local authority’s desire to protect industrial sites.

Without the latest backing the council would have launched enforcement action to close the premises.

But the committee decided to support the retrospective bid, with a couple of members referencing the gym next door as a reason for approval.

Tweeddale East councillor Marshall Douglas, of the SNP, said: “On the face of it they are using industrial premises which would fit better into the area but there has been a precedent in the sense that similar establishments have been allowed on that site and elsewhere.

“It’s an established business, there are jobs involved there. I would support the applicant but I would want a condition that at the end of their lease it is reverted to industrial use.”

Hawick councillor Jane Cox, of the Conservatives, said: “It’s an existing gym with lots and lots of recommendations of people who have used it, which are all very positive.”

The gym – which has more than 50 members and helped many through the pandemic – also provides support through exercise to those who have suffered from cancer.

Tweeddale West councillor Viv Thomson, of the SNP, said: “There’s a thriving business, there are people locally who are employed and they’re training up another coach.

“She’s [Ms McFarlane] providing specialist services.”

Mid Berwickshire councillor Donald Moffat, also of the SNP, said: “I don’t agree with the idea that it has to go back to industrial use afterwards.

“We’ve got a lot of premises across the Borders that have been left half dilapidated because no one wants to use them.

“I think if people want to use buildings like this they should be able to use them.”

A condition that the site would be returned to industrial use at the end of its lease was agreed by members.