Exeter: Sowton indoor climbing centre proposal is given the go-ahead

Proposals for a new indoor climbing centre on the Sowton Industrial Estate in Exeter have been given the go-ahead.

Applicant The Climbing Hangar – which already runs sites in Plymouth, Liverpool, London and Swansea – had asked for permission to convert a vacant building in Mallard Road to offer ‘bouldering’.

The centre will create 20 new jobs and be open from 6.30am to 10pm, Mondays to Fridays, and 9am to 8pm on weekends.

The health benefits of this proposal, contributing to the active lifestyle of the city, are considered a positive aspect…

Proposals were approved by Exeter City Council officers under delegated powers.

They said: “The business would provide jobs, and the café could be used by the workforce in the area.

“The site is a sustainable location with good bus and train links and the proposal meets the council priority to promote healthy and active city.

“Climbing is an Olympic sport which is growing in popularity and the planning statement sets out the need for this type of climbing facility and the sport’s growing popularity in the UK.

“One of the priorities of the council’s vision is to promote an active and healthy city, and this proposal would certainly support that vision.

“The proposed occupier offers youth development classes to local groups such as scout/cadet groups, schools and charities such as the Prince’s Trust, and would provide a community and sporting activity.”

Bouldering is is a style of rock climbing without a rope or harness on small artificial walls with mats to prevent any injuries from falls.

The application garnered 25 letters of support and two objections – one of which came from The Quay Climbing Centre, which said it has successfully applied for permission to extend its business.

But the officers’ report added: “The council is keen to promote leisure use at the Quay, with a number of leisure and sporting activities already established there.

“However, business competition is not a planning matter, and the applicant has demonstrated through the sequential test that no suitable site is available at the Quay.

“The health benefits of this proposal, contributing to the active lifestyle of the city, are considered a positive aspect.

“Given the current under-provision within the Exeter market, our experience in Plymouth of the high numbers that attend The Climbing Hangar facility from Exeter and its environs, and based on other locations across the UK, it is evident that there is demand in the area for a number of high-quality climbing facilities, and particularly bouldering facilities.

“As such the proposal will not prevent the opportunity for other such facilities, whilst the offer at the Quay would be different if it were to come forward given The Climbing Hangar operate a specialist bouldering use.”

The Climbing Hangar’s application stated: “The proposal will…result in economic benefits to the area, bring a long-term vacant building back into active use, generating new and a greater diversity of employment opportunities and supporting and serving the existing businesses and their employees in this location.”

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