A GYM owner whose expansion dreams were thwarted by planners last year is thrilled his proposal for a new fitness centre has finally being given the thumbs up.

Paul Pearson who runs One Gym Fitness, in Bishop Auckland, will open a new branch of the budget gym on Durham Way South at Aycliffe Business Park in Newton Aycliffe in March.

It will create seven jobs, as well as opportunities for freelance fitness instructors to deliver exercise classes.

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Its opening follows a prominent campaign on social networking site Facebook, launched after Durham County Council turned down Mr Pearson’s change of use application for the vacant warehouse.

Planners judged it would have an adverse impact on the estate, undermine the council’s employment strategy and affect the vitality and viability of the town centre.

Mr Pearson was shocked by the decision, highlighting the fact that there were no other suitable units in the town centre.

However, he refused to give up and, with the backing of Great Aycliffe councillor Eddy Adam, he launched a campaign to promote the benefits the gym would bring.

“I had the support of the other businesses on the estate so I was shocked when the application was turned down last year,” said Mr Pearson.

“I am thrilled and relieved we have been given the go ahead to bring affordable fitness to Newton Aycliffe.”