Campaigners battling to re-house a Norwich gym club visit Downing Street

Campaigners fighting to stop a gymnastics club becoming homeless want to plead their case face to face with David Cameron.

Chermond Gymnastics Club was denied planning permission to convert an unused Whiffler Road warehouse into its new training venue.

Members of the group visited 10 Downing Street yesterday to hand across a 1,651-signature petition supporting their proposal.

And club founder Cherie Alcock said she had also phoned, emailed and dropped in a letter requesting a meeting with the prime minister.

A delegation from the group, including five gymnasts, were also treated to a tour of the Houses of Parliament, arranged by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith.

Mrs Alcock said: 'The handing-over of the petition was an experience.

'I think it not only shows the support for the young people but also brings it to the attention of people in London. Without this, how do they really know our problems and what's happening to us?

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'We are still continuing the discussions with the council and asked for an audience with the prime minister to speak to him about our plight.'

Norwich City Council refused Chermond's application after raising concerns about pedestrian and cycle access in an industrial area. Chermond, established more than 30 years ago, is currently based at City Academy Norwich, Earlham Road. But the school is due to be rebuilt from the summer and the club desires more security with a permanent home.

A Norwich City Council spokesman said the authority was committed to supporting community and voluntary groups.

He said: 'In keeping with this, the council has secured expert planning assistance for the gym club from planning aid – an independent charitable body – and has also offered advice and further information in relation to various planning and building control issues they are likely to encounter.

'We have also given them advice on possible funding sources and have been actively investigating the availability of temporary places for them to operate from, pending them finding a new permanent home.'

Norwich North MP Miss Smith said: 'It would be a great shame to lose the enthusiasm and opportunity for young people represented by this club.

'I congratulate the club in its energy in taking the campaign all the way to Downing Street.'