PLANS for a new gym which would be used by both school children and the wider community have been unanimously approved by councillors.

The Treetops School in Buxton Road, Grays, is set to turn a six-bay minibus garage into a fitness and rehabilitation facility to be used by children in the wider Treetops Learning Community Trust.

The gym will cater for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)after councillors on Thurrock’s planning committee gave it the go ahead last week.

The trust’s 458 students who will benefit from specific individualised programmes alongside PE lessons on a daily basis.

It will be controlled and operated by the Treetops Community Learning Trust and outside activities would also be controlled by trust schools.

Speaking at the committee meeting, Georgette Polly, Conservative councillor for Belhus said: “In support of Treetops they are an outstanding SEND facility and in fact we’ve known it to be a victim of its own success in that people are fighting from outside and inside the borough to get their children into this facility.

“For lot of the pupils who have perhaps non-conformist physical problems it would be bespoke to their condition which is something we can only celebrate and I very much welcome this. I think it’s a good thing.”

Sue Shinnick, Labour Councillor for South Chafford, added: “I welcome this. I think it’s going to be a great facility for pupils and people in the community.”

A report to councillors said the trust has contact charities such as Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions and other independent living organisations who may wish to use the facility It will be open Monday to Friday from 6am to 8pm and on Saturday and Sundays from 8am to 2pm.

The report concluded: “The site is located within the green belt and the proposal is considered appropriate development.

“Given there would be no operational development there would be no harm to the green belt, nor harm to the openness of the green .”