PLANS to transform a former off-licence into a 24-hour gym have been given the go-ahead.

Earlier this month, Durham County Council approved a ‘change of use’ bid for the first floor above the old Bargain Booze store in Front Street, Sacriston.

Under the plans, the new gymnasium is expected to create five full-time and eight part-time jobs with the ground floor remaining as a shop space.

A design and access statement, submitted to Durham County Council, previously argued the gym would help to boost the local economy.

It reads: “The settlement is crying out for new investment and new uses like this, which will not only provide a service but will also provide jobs, economic activity and assist with improving the viability and vitality of this parade.”

A decision notice adds planners have “sought to work with the applicant in a positive and proactive manner” to meet planning objectives. This includes “delivering high-quality sustainable development to improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area.”

Approved plans will be kept in check by several conditions around noise reduction – including banning amplified music.

The proposal was originally approved with 6am to 11pm opening hours but the latest application altered its operating times to 24-hour.

Officers, who approved the application using delegated powers, agreed to the change for one year. It could revert to 6am to 11pm hours if applicants fail to renew. They said the principle of use had already been established and the loss of a retail space– in an area with a number of vacant properties– would not have a significant impact.

Applicant, Newcastle-based Anthony Lang Planning Services, said the gym would appeal to people within walking distance and an open public car park is nearby.

A smaller ground floor shop will remain a retail unit.