Petersfield Town Council (PTC) has blocked several outdoor fitness businesses from using Love Lane, it has emerged this week.

The council claims the use by the outdoor fitness groups clash with the park’s ‘recreational’ purpose.

But Mark Allen, who has been running Body Fitness Camp out of Love Lane since 2019 with full council support, has never been given a clear explanation for the ban. 

He said: “Both councils are sending me around in circles – they’re not giving me any answers.”

In a statement, East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) said: “EHDC fully supports local enterprises, especially those that promote health and well-being, and the last thing we want is to shut the business down.”

The statement mentions noise complaints, which the Post understands were tested by the town council and summarily dismissed.

It also references complaints made about car park access for a nearby nursery – but the owner of the nursery told the Post these issues had long been resolved, and had “no issue whatsoever” with Body Fitness Camp.

EHDC said the best way to resolve the issue is for planning permission to be discussed and, if it is needed, appropriate conditions to be set. 

See below for EHDC's full statement.

PTC said they had no control at all over the ban and added they have to conform to what EHDC said as the local planning authority.

But Mark and hundreds of others feel the decision to block Body Camp Fitness, an organisation that provides four jobs, helps boost the local economy, improves people’s mental and physical health and even supports the community through litter-picking and philanthropic ventures, goes against the apparent ethos of both councils to support local businesses. 

Both the public and businesses want the councils to give them a clear reason for the ban, and to stick to their ethos in supporting businesses and get the tangle of council red tape sorted. 

East Hampshire District Council's full statement given on June 26:

EHDC fully supports local enterprises, especially those that promote health and wellbeing such as that operating on Love Lane Playing Fields in Petersfield, and the last thing we want is to shut the business down. 

What’s important for us is that the impact on the local residents and other users of the playing fields are properly considered. 

The best way to do that is for the group to meet with EHDC's planning team to discuss the planning position. If planning permission is needed, we could then move forward with an application which could set some parameters on the activity.

During the last six months or so there have been some contacts from neighbours who have complained of music and noise form the classes in the early morning, they often start at 7am and are held nearly every day. The businesses has also grown considerably in terms of class size and frequency since its launch. 

In the past the class has also set up on the hard-standing of the car park, blocking up spaces for parents from dropping off their children at the nursery. 

The best way to prevent these types of inadvertent conflicts between the class, the local residents and other visitors to Love Lane would be for planning permission to be discussed and, if it is needed, appropriate conditions to be set. That way everyone would know where they stand. 

We have contacted Mr Allen so we can meet him and hopefully find a way forward that suits him, the local residents and all parties.