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Tower Theatre applies to take over old Sunstone gym in Stoke Newington - but seven-day booze bid vexes neighbours

PUBLISHED: 13:57 25 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:57 25 August 2017

The Sunstone women's gym in Northwold Road just after it went out of business in 2014. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

The Sunstone women's gym in Northwold Road just after it went out of business in 2014. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

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An 85-year-old amateur dramatics theatre is eyeing the site of a former gym in Stoke Newington - but its plans to serve alcohol haven't gone down well with everyone.

The Sunstone women's-only club in Stoke Newington before it closed. Photo Google StreetViewThe Sunstone women's-only club in Stoke Newington before it closed. Photo Google StreetView

Tower Theatre, now in the City’s Bride Lane, has had various homes over its eight and a half decades, and wants to make Sunstone House in Northwold Road its latest.

Two years ago gym-goers were upset when the women’s-only Sunstone centre – boasting a swimming pool, gym, salon and therapy clinic – announced its insolvency.

Now Tower Theatre has lodged a planning application to convert its use, including alterations to the front to improve access.

And Tavistock Repertory Guarantors has applied to serve drinks there every day from 11am until midnight.

"Since the opening of a pub last month we have seen our home turn from a quiet and clean area to a noisy and dirty drenched-in-urine habitat. We are in utter shock and dismay that this will be multiplied by the opening of another licensed premises"

Neighbour

Studies and surveys have already been commissioned to make sure the building would be affordable and fit for purpose.

In a joint statement on behalf of the property group and board of trustees, David Taylor and Sarah Ambrose said: “This is a major step forward and, although there are still contracts and agreements to thrash out, the prospect of the Tower Theatre Company occupying its own building again is getting closer to reality – and is very exciting.”

They continued: “If all goes to plan we will need a lot of help, especially during the alteration works and what promises to be the biggest ‘get-in’ the company will have ever seen.”

But police aren’t so enthusiastic and have expressed concern with the timings of the licence because of the residential streets and estates surrounding the building.

"The prospect of the Tower Theatre Company occupying its own building again is getting closer to reality – and is very exciting"

David Taylor and Sarah Ambrose

Fifty-one neighbours have opposed the application which will be decided at a licensing sub-committee today (Thu).

One objector said: “Since the opening of a pub last month we have seen our home turn from a quiet and clean area to a noisy and dirty drenched-in-urine habitat. We are in utter shock and dismay that this will be multiplied by the opening of another licensed premises.”

However, six are in favour and are “looking forward to see what they will bring to the community”.

“The inclusion of a paid bar will be a valuable asset, as well as a meeting spot for members and audience alike and a necessary cultural hub,” wrote one in a submission to the council.

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