Comment: News of new gym meets with muted response

The much-discussed gym will take up the ground floor of Butlers Yard, Drovers Way

The much-discussed gym will take up the ground floor of Butlers Yard, Drovers Way - Credit: Archant

When it comes to commercial property, what does central St Albans really need? Retail fans have been lobbying for a John Lewis or a Primark for many a long while, but what we keep getting is coffee shops, more coffee shops and, occasionally, a restaurant. Oh, apart from now we’re also getting a gym.

Last week’s news that the vacant commercial space on Drovers Way is to accommodate fitness fans has caused a stir - and a fair bit annoyance.

I’d assumed the mere fact that the ground floor of the Butlers Yard development wasn’t going to serve coffee would have had most people feeling something other than abject irritation, but apparently not. Fitness First is only a five minute walk away, and the general consensus seems to be that another town centre gym is not required.

This doesn’t mean that it won’t be popular, of course.

After all, those that bemoaned the recent loss of Dunkin’ Donuts are now committed fans of its replacement, Card Factory. We don’t like change, but we do tend to adapt to it pretty quickly (and what’s not to like about 10 cards for a pound?).

In this case, a gym has to be better than nothing. While the 14 apartments above the commercial space in question (between the Premier Inn and the vacant BHS building) have been occupied for some time, the ground floor commercial space has remained empty. A gym’s better than, literally, nothing, surely?

Plus, it’s something different - though the coffee shop queues any given lunchtime seem to confirm there’s also room for even more of the same in the centre of town.

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What would you like to see filling this particular space? And what does St Albans need more of in general?

I’m all about the affordable clobber so I’ve still got my fingers crossed for a Primark, but I’m open to other suggestions...