Burgess Hill gym ‘desperately’ in need of new home

Owner Sue Upton (far left) with staff members at Heights gym. Picture: Steve Robards
Owner Sue Upton (far left) with staff members at Heights gym. Picture: Steve Robards

A gym which is popular amongst the Burgess Hill community is desperately in need of a new home.

Heights Health and Fitness, in the Martlets Shopping Centre, has been given notice to leave by the end of February, says its owner Sue Upton who has been running the business for 20 years.

Moving a gym is a big thing, and everybody is looking for venues at the moment, it has not been easy.

Owner Sue Upton

“We have been given notice because of the Martlets redevelopment,” she told the Middy.

“We are desperately looking for a new home. We knew it was coming for a long time, but we had thought we would be here until June, when Martlets Hall closes.

“To have the date put forward makes it a lot to try and get sorted out.

“Moving a gym is a big thing, and everybody is looking for venues at the moment, it has not been easy.

“We have been in the town for 20 years and had hoped we would be part of the Martlets redevelopment. We felt we were part of the town, and would go with them.

“We have to find somewhere pretty quickly, when a business closes and people go with it too, it is hard to set it up again.”

Two members of staff have already left the gym after finding out about the closure.

One option could see the gym move into Age UK’s Cherry Tree Centre in Fairfield Road, which has been subject to a campaign from residents to keep the centre open.

Sue said: “We are talking positively with the Cherry Tree Centre but nothing has been formally agreed or signed. If we do move in there, we don’t intend to move the whole gym.

“We would have to split the business over two venues and would have a studio in there. But this is not really what we are looking for, we would ideally like one venue.

“If we were to move in there, we would focus on middle-aged members and older.

“We have a lot of senior members here, so we look at it as helping Age UK to stay in the centre and staying for our senior gym members. Some have said they won’t go anywhere else if we go.

“It wouldn’t be as if were crossing lines with the centre that much, and we would be able to offer group exercises.”

Diane Henderson, chief executive for Age UK West Sussex, has confirmed the charity is in discussions with Heights.

She said: “We are pleased our plans to stay at the Cherry Tree, which include sharing the building with a local gym are going well.

“The gym will offer lots of classes to our members as well as a service to her current members.

“We are progressing well and no services are being cut or planned to be cut for the foreseeable future.”

Residents have expressed their concerns since finding out about the gym closure.

Michael Trayler, of North End, Ditchling, said: “This represents the loss of an important community asset, yet the developers have so far made no serious effort to find a new home for Heights even though I understand they have vacant sites available in the town centre.”

Resident Warren Cubitt regularly uses Heights. “I fully understand the need for changes in the town centre, but during this transitional period, businesses are suffering and lots of units are now standing empty,” he said.

A NewRiver REIT spokesman said: “Over recent months we have been working with Sue to find an appropriate and acceptable location for Heights Health and Fitness.

“We will continue to look at all possible options for her and her business.”

If anyone can help Heights please contact Sue via sue@heighthealthclub.co.uk