A MAJOR Southampton supermarket has been blasted by councillors and locals after it tabled plans to build a 24-hour gym above its store – which would see a community space lost.

But Sainsbury’s argues the space is not used for what it was originally intended, with groups instead using a smaller room within the store.

It adds that the space has laid empty for the past eight years, since the store opened, and no groups have come forward to take it over.

If the change of use is approved by planners, the gym will be taken over by PureGym.

The group already has three gyms in the city boundaries.

However, local councillors say that as part of the planning consent the store was given back in 2011, the community space was one of the “promises” made by the store while to quell local pushback.

The application, which is currently with Southampton City Council officers, is likely to be debated at the authority’s planning committee in the near future due to the amount of negative feedback received.

“The provision of community space was the last in a long line of promises that Sainsbury’s made to the community when trying to overcome the significant local opposition to the building of it’s Portswood store,” said Portswood councillor Lisa Mitchell.

“Although there may be some appetite for a gym or other leisure facility in the local area, I don’t

think that this should come as a detriment to the provision of community spaces, particularly as

gym memberships can often be expensive and not everyone will be able to take advantage of

such a facility.”

Fellow ward councillor Matthew Claisse added: “Sainsbury’s was granted permission for a superstore on the basis that a specified space above the store would be for community use. If granted, that use will be lost

“The 24 hour gym and subsequent noise would create disturbance that would affect the amenity of neighbours.”

The members – who represent the Labour and Conservatives groups respectively – both agreed that car parking was also an issue that needed addressing, as a 24-hour use of the current parking area was not being sought. Currently it’s open from 6am to 11pm Monday to Saturday.

However, the applicant says that attendance during the early hours will be, on average, less than 21 between the hours of midnight and 5am.

Nevertheless, this rises to an average of 27 people between 5am and 6am – when the car park will still be shut – says PureGym.

Other objections from locals, who were also concerned at the loss of the community space, included traffic, parking in neighbouring residential roads, and antisocial behaviour.

One even suggested that it was a “through the back door” approach to get the store opened 24 hours-a-day.

Sainsbury’s did not comment further than to confirm an application has been submitted. PureGym did not wish to comment.