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Fornham St Genevieve All Saints Hotel outdoor gym refused retrospective planning permission after neighbour noise complaints

An outdoor gym that was built at a hotel has been denied retrospective planning permission after noise complaints from neighbours.

All Saints Hotel in Fornham St Genevieve, near Bury St Edmunds, built the outdoor gymnasium, complete with an open-sided exercise shelter, moveable exercise equipment and a storage container, during Covid-19 lockdown when indoor gyms were not available.

Used by members of the hotel's health club, as well as guests and visitors, the gym runs regular classes from its woodland location, some of which start as early as 6.45am, which neighbours said caused them distress due to noise.

All Saints Hotel, Fornham St Genevieve. Picture: Mecha Morton
All Saints Hotel, Fornham St Genevieve. Picture: Mecha Morton

During a West Suffolk Council Development and Control Committee meeting yesterday, one resident said the gym has had a serious impact on her life and her mental health.

"The acoustic fence is a joke - it does not cover my property. I have to go indoors where I still can't get away from it. My neighbour has taken to wearing earplugs," she said.

Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger, who represents the area on Suffolk County Council, said the gym was built when planning rules had been relaxed in Covid-19 lockdown, and permission should have been sought sooner.

She added that the formerly dense woodland at John’s Hill Plantation had been changed to accommodate for the gym and she and the neighbours believed some trees had been cut down.

There are two Tree Preservation Orders in place at the site.

West Suffolk Council recommended the outdoor gym for approval on several conditions, including a post-completion noise assessment be carried out at the site, replacement tree planting was implemented and the gym was restricted to open at 8am and close by 7pm, with 6.45am classes on three days a week during summer months only.

Molly Bedford, the assistant manager of the health club, said the outdoor gym provides visitors with a quiet space for individual, one to one exercise and supports the wellbeing of residents as well as guests.

She said they have a managed timetable so they don't have too many people using the gym at once, and added that a resident from neighbouring Birkdale Court told her the noise heard is unoffensive and lasts about 45 minutes at a time.

Several councillors, including cllr Nick Clarke and cllr John Burns, said if the plan were to come before them fresh they would not support it.

Cllr David Roach said: "The message that you can do what you like and apply for retrospective permission and get accepted isn't a good one."

Cllr Andy Drummond, the 'tree champion' of the council, recommended the committee refuse the plans and said replanting the area would be essential.

The application was unanimously refused.