Karate school set to expand
A MARTIAL arts school in Cheltenham is set to expand by moving to larger premises.
Karate World, which has been on Cheltenham's High Street for the last four years, hopes to set up in a former funeral directors, in Albion Street, which has been empty for years.
Stephen Thompson, master instructor, said the move would allow for more space for his young charges.
He said: "The new area has one big floor, and more room for us to work on the personal development of my students.
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"We're currently located on the second floor, so it is not suitable for disabled parents or spectators. Our premises used to be offices, so we have a big pillar in the middle of the training area, which is a massive restriction and a constant worry."
Landlord Larraby Land wants to change the building to a retail site, and the pair agreed that Karate World would move despite having five years left on its lease.
James Tibbles, of Larraby Land, said: "They wanted a bigger space and a cash injection and we wanted the space to develop."
The Albion Street site has been empty since 2007, and the close proximity to the bus stop makes it an ideal location for Mr Thompson.
He said martial arts could improve the self-esteem and morale of young children.
"We want to develop that 'I can' attitude, and aid the growth of these young people," he said.
"This will be the first centre in the UK to have a room which is dedicated to personal development. At the moment we have to teach our personal development on our matted area. This new room will be a massive addition to our goal in getting character education taught outside schools."
The school currently has 120 students and Mr Thompson thinks there will be room for expansion.
The new location in Albion Street will allow Karate World to stay close to two big primary schools – Lakeside and St Gregory's – where instructors are taking PE lessons for free.
Andrew Williams, owner of Williams Cycles in Albion Street, welcomed the news.
"It will bring more people to the area and that will help business.
"It is all a bit quiet, with a few empty stores, and anything that helps that area will be great" he said.