A new gym had its official opening at the weekend following planning controversy.

Brighton and Hove Mayor Lizzie Deane cut the ribbon on Intent91 at the Old Brewery in Portslade, and even had a go on some of the gym’s exercise machines.

More than 100 residents were welcomed through the doors for personal training taster sessions and were offered coffee and cake.

The South Street site is the company’s second in Sussex, with its first located in Worthing since 2020. It is owned by business duo George Branford and Emily Riggs.

The Argus: The mayor had a go on some of the gym's equipmentThe mayor had a go on some of the gym's equipment (Image: Intent91)

“The launch day went as well as it possibly could,” said Mr Branford.

“Lots of people joined us on the day and we ran taster sessions all day for everyone who was interested in what we do.

“We had a big uptake and doubled our membership on the day.

“We’re a personal training gym and we’ve got almost 100 members now.

“It’s been really positive, a lot of local people coming down, and it’s really nice to see a sense of community forming.

“It’s really important to us that community is at the heart of everything we do.”

The Argus: People ere offered free taster sessionsPeople ere offered free taster sessions (Image: Intent91)

The gym began welcoming customers in November but encountered an issue with the change of use of the site, with Mr Branford saying they believed they already had permission for the enterprise.

A planning application for the former Le Carbone site would allow the Intent91 gym to operate in part of the building.

But the overall plans were originally approved in November 2017 on condition that the space would be used for art studios, galleries, a community space and a cafe.

The original planning consent permitted 37 self-contained flats, 673 square metres of employment floor space, 11 new-build homes and 47 parking spaces as well as the community space.

Councillors did eventually vote to grant planning permission for a “change of use” from a community space to a commercial space.

“It was shame to be honest with the planning permission, as far as we were concerned we had permission,” said Mr Branford.

“We reached out to the council before we took on the lease to check it was all OK and we had confirmation from the council saying it was.

“We’re relieved we’re able to crack on and continue with what we’re doing trying to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“I’d like to say thank you to the locals who have supported us so far and we’re really excited for the future.”