PLANS to relocate a popular gym to a former bakery in Newport have been scuppered by city councillors.

Newport City Council’s planning committee heard that Evolve Fit hoped to find a permanent home at the Wern Trading Estate in Rogerstone.

The canteen that once served Avana Bakeries, which closed in January 2017 after more than 60 years in business, was the desired location.

But a tight vote at a meeting on Thursday saw members vote to refuse the application on public safety grounds.

Evolve Fit, which has around 300 regular members, is a private gym available only to paying members.

Director Clare Woodward said classes had recently been held at the estate’s Faith Church but the business had since been told to move on.

“I’m now relying on the good will of other venues and this could be withdrawn at any time," said Ms Woodward.

“This has put my business at risk."

The nine-acre Avana site is now owned by Rombourne, with the Cardiff commercial property firm planning to establish a business park with manufacturing, warehouse and office space.

But council officers raised concerns over the safety of visitors travelling to the gym.

A planning report said the potential for further businesses at the site would result in “increased difficulty in managing the conflicts between heavy vehicular movements and pedestrians”.

The roads within the estate are outside the remit of the council’s highways engineers, given they are now under private ownership, but the report says public safety remains a consideration for the authority.

The report adds: “The use also has the potential to cause members of the public to be relatively isolated in an area without proper lighting and potentially being at risk to anti-social behaviour or crime.”

But Ms Woodward disputed the findings of council officers, saying that customers would use the car park and existing access walkways as previously used by around 600 Avana employees at its peak.

Rogerstone and Newport Independents councillor Chris Evans argued that the gym would be a “very small part” in Rombourne’s wider scheme.

Cllr Evans claimed that there was a lack of consistency within the committee’s decision, saying that Tiny Rebel, which established a brewery on the estate in 2016, had been “welcomed with open arms”.

“They’re selling alcohol. Clare and Evolve Fit are going to be encouraging people to get fit in a safe environment,” said Cllr Evans.

In response, planning officer Stephen Williams said the brewery was in an area with sufficient pavements and street lighting, amenities that the Avana site lacked.

Committee members voiced support for the gym but remained sceptical about its proposed location.

The vote saw four votes in favour to support of the proposals and four votes against, with committee chair Councillor John Richards’ opposition to the plans being the deciding vote.