A FORMER Olympic athlete has applied to open a new boutique gym on Chester's historic Rows.

Tim Benjamin, considered to be one of Britain's finest 400m runners, has applied for permission to open a branch of his franchise The Fitness Space on Newgate Row.

If approved, it will take up the second floor of Longus House, a six-storey building that fronts onto Eastgate Street next to the Grosvenor Shopping Centre.

Cardiff-born Mr Benjamin hopes to add the premises to his list of 21 gyms that are being opened up around the country.

Including high-tech services such as DNA testing to “remove the guesswork” in creating bespoke fitness plans, the gyms are aimed at more affluent clientele.

In proposals submitted to Cheshire West and Chester Council, Mr Benjamin seeks to set his business apart from the likes of PureGym on the city's Greyhound Retail Park.

The plans state: “The business model is to provide a highly personal approach to training workouts where each member has a personal fitness trainer and is supported by high-tech tools to give a fuller understanding and ownership over their health statistics, to boost results.

“The gym contrasts with the various existing budget gym business models which are on a larger scale and make exercise facilities available to members for individual use and represents a more personal environment to members.”

The application to the council requests a change of use of the building's second floor from 'office' to 'fitness and health'.

It reveals that owners Aviva Investors have tried for seven years to market the office space as such but have had no success.

The new gym would “bring about a number of benefits and will support economic, social and environmental elements to sustainable development”, the document says. It would also have little impact on amenity.

“The change of use proposal would result in the comings and goings of gym members to the building,” the plans state.

“This change represents an increase on the present situation, given the floorspace is vacant. Nevertheless, this increase is still not considered to be significant.

“The immediate surrounding area is characterised by a busy city centre shopping area with no residential properties in the immediate vicinity. There is not considered, therefore, to be any material impact on residential amenity for city centre dwellers.”

The council's planning committee will consider Mr Benjamin's application at a future meeting.