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Boxing club celebrates win after planners give new hub the go-ahead

Bilton Hall centre manager Joanne Tuck is delighted the plans have been approved.
Bilton Hall centre manager Joanne Tuck is delighted the plans have been approved.

Boxers are knocked out after planners refrained from throwing punches over parking concerns to allow them to build a specialist practise hub.

The go-ahead means they could be sparring in purpose-built £100,000 facilities at Low Simonside Community Centre, Jarrow, as early as Christmas.

Permission to construct the bespoke sporting arena came despite worries about increased parking in neighbouring streets.

South Tyneside Council admits it identified a ‘significant’ shortfall of existing vehicle spaces within the centre’s grounds while studying the plans.

But they found surrounding byways do not suffer from congestion and are unlikely to do so from Bilton Hall Amateur Boxing Club’s 250-strong membership.

Most fighters are aged under 18, do not drive and will be dropped off by family if they come by car – and no public objections were raised.

Joanna Tuck, community development manager at Bilton Hall Community Trust (BHCT), which operates the centre, said she was delighted at the planning green light.

She said: “We are very happy about this and hope to have the scheme out to tender to find a developer very soon.

“I’d love to have the new building up by Christmas, and it is possible, but more realistically it’s likely to be around March.

“We need this new facility because we have a lot of boxing members and they use the main hall here three nights a week.

“They are a very important group here, but they need a dedicated boxing space.”

The boxing gym will be housed in an extension to the rear of the Taunton Avenue centre.

It is being funded largely through a £78,000 grant from Sport England’s Community Asset Fund.

Low Simonside Community Centre was founded in 1979 on the site of a former infant school.

The premises were earmarked for closure by the council in 2016 but saved after being taken over by a volunteer group which formed BHCT.

Council case officer Sean Gallagher said an additional seven car parking spaces were needed – bringing the total to 46 – for the centre to meet specific planning criteria.

In a report, he said: “It is considered the addition of the boxing gym would be beneficial to the community centre’s sustainability.

“The application is therefore recommended for approval.”