Hartlepool’s old Marks & Spencer store could become a gym

Marks & Spencer in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre before it closed down.
Marks & Spencer in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre before it closed down.

Plans have been submitted to turn part of a former flagship store in Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange shopping centre into a gym.

The proposal has been put in to turn the old Marks & Spencer unit into a sports facility.

The use of the ground floor of this unit still remains retail and we are in talks with a national brand about taking this space.

Mark Rycraft

If given the go ahead, the first and second floor would be transformed, while the mall’s bosses have revealed they are in talks which could see a high street name move into the ground floor.

The gym plans have been submitted by Jones Lang LaSalle on behalf of Mars Pension Trustees Limited.

The application states: “There is currently a limited offer of gym operators in Hartlepool which includes Mill House Leisure Centre and Lifestyle Fitness.

“Mill House Leisure Centre is located in the town centre which is approximately 500m north of the application site.
“Mill House Leisure Centre, which is owned and managed by the Council, provides a range of fitness classes, a swimming pool and a gym.
“Lifestyle Fitness is located out of town adjacent to Anchor Mill Retail Park on the marina, which is approximately 1.2km to the north east of the application site.

“Lifestyle Fitness is represented across the UK and provides a large gym, with a ladies only area, fitness classes and a coffee and juice bar.

“This application comprises a change of use only.

“The internal alterations required to form the gym which need planning permission will be the responsibility of the gym operator who will secure any additional planning applications which may be required.”

Mark Rycraft, centre manager of Middleton Grange, said: “The recent planning application submitted relates directly to the change of use across the first and second floor of the former M&S unit only, from retail to leisure use.

“However, the use of the ground floor of this unit still remains retail and we are in talks with a national brand about taking this space.”

Marks & Spencer confirmed last summer it was moving out of the centre.

It has since opened a Simply Food outlet in the Anchor Retail Park, with the 50 staff offered positions at the new bases.

The closure of the shopping centre shop caused concern when the decision was announced, with Mr Rycraft saying he was “disappointed” about the move.