Message from our Chair, Alisdair Thornton
Phoenix Gymnastics Club will not be in a position to reopen on April 12th and it is looking increasingly unlikely that we will be able to reopen at any point.
I would like to offer a brief explanation of the events that have led us to this point but first, it is important to state that the position we find ourselves in is not as a direct result of the current COVID pandemic. Thanks to a huge amount of work behind the scenes from Lynn, the coaches and all of the Phoenix staff, and of the continued and generous support of our members, Phoenix has weathered the pandemic in good financial shape.
Our problems stem from being required to leave our current site at Water Oakley by the beginning of May and having nowhere to relocate to.
After a hard fought battle, we secured planning permission for a new club on a site close by in Fifield. After a competitive tendering process a contractor was chosen with a build cost of around £1.8 million. Through fundraising efforts we have secured pledges of £700 000 but that still left us a shortfall of over £1 million.
We approached the council, central government, charitable funds, local businesses and philanthropists in our efforts to close the gap, all to no avail. Finally, we approached commercial lenders for a loan and after a number of preliminary applications, progressed with The Charity Bank which, as the name suggests, specialises in lending to charities and organisations that traditionally struggle to secure loans. The Charity Bank were impressed with the efficiency and financial stability of the club and had no concerns about our ability to service such a substantial loan, however we learnt two weeks ago that our application has been rejected due to the restrictive nature of the planning consent at our Fifield site.
The planning states that the building can only be used for gymnastic training and the bank felt that this severely impacted the value of the completed gym, against which the loan would be secured. We exhausted all possible appeals processes and made representations to the council to relax the planning conditions but despite every effort we were unsuccessful.
In the meantime we have continued to investigate alternative sites and buildings but all were either unsuitable, unaffordable or had nowhere near enough parking, in most cases all three.
Our current landlord has been patient, but we have outstayed our welcome at Water Oakley by well over a year.
We need to find a new home and will continue to explore all options - your help is most welcome and we can be contacted via