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From furniture to football

DW Fitness will be allowed to transform the empty building into five-a-side pitches.

DW Fitness will be allowed to transform the empty building into five-a-side pitches.

Proposals for an indoor soccer centre have scored a hit with planners.

The scheme to transform the former MFI furniture store on Vicarage Lane, Marton, into four five-a-side football pitches has been granted planning permission by Blackpool Council.

DW Fitness, which already operates a gym in the next door premises, is proposing to plough around £250,000 into the development.

The football centre was approved by planners using delegated powers who said the proposed use of the building “was complimentary and appropriate” in view of the gym next door.

Blackpool Council planning chairman Coun David Owen said: “The building has been empty for some time.

“We did get a couple of letters of objection from residents, but on balance it was felt this would be a useful facility to have in the neighbourhood.

“Indoor football is becoming increasingly popular and so it ought to be a goer in that area.

“It seems a novel and ambitious proposal and we wish the developer well with it.”

As well as the playing pitches, facilities will include changing rooms and showers, a lounge with catering facilities, a manager’s office and staff room.

The centre would operate seven days a week, between 10.30am and 9.30pm and could accommodate up to 50 people at full capacity.

Players will not have to be members in order to hire one of the pitches.

There are currently five five-a-side football facilities in Blackpool.

DW Fitness, which is owned by Wigan Football Club chairman Dave Whelan, opened a gym in the former Focus DIY store in 2011 after taking over the site when both Focus and MFI closed down in 2006.

Despite marketing the MFI building for the past two years, no potential tenants have come forward.

DW said its application had been prompted by “market demand”.

A design brief accompanying the application added: “It represents an opportunity in challenging economic circumstances to bring the site back into productive use, create jobs, make more efficient use of the land, and enhance the appearance of the area as well as encouraging health and fitness.”

The facility will also create between 10 to 15 new jobs.

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