A CITY centre gym has closed its doors after seven years, claiming its new rent is too high.

Bourton Mill Health and Leisure Club in Oxford’s High Street shut last week.

It had been based on the upper floors of 6-7 High Street, and the building’s other tenant, stationers Rymans is also concerned about a rent rise.

The property owner, Henderson Global Investors, has drawn up plans to convert the building into a four-floor store.

A director of Bourton Mill, who refused to be named, said: “We have been trying to re-negotiate our rent for quite a while.

“As we cannot get our rent down enough we are having to close.”

Gym membership had cost £45 per month.

Ryman’s said it had been trading at the High Street address for more than two decades.

Group chief executive Kypros Kyprianou said: “Since purchasing the site last year, our new landlord has indicated that they wish to redevelop it, presumably to let the space at a higher rent.

“This is a source of extreme disappointment to us and we have legal representation to assist with our aims to remain at the property for as long as possible.”

He pledged the firm would remain in the city.

Cameron Fraser, fund manager at Henderson Global Investors, said: “We do not feel the rent is too high.

“The gym operators were paying a rent which was well below what the market rent is for that unit.

“We let them know what the new rent was and they said they could not afford it so they have surrendered their space.”

“The property has the potential to be either one or two units.

“We are looking to explore all possibilities at the moment,” he added.

Henderson Global Investors would not disclose the rent charged.

Graham Jones, of Oxford traders campaign group Rox, said: “Rents have always been challenging in Oxford and it is a continuing issue.”

He said it was important that schemes such as park-and-ride helped attract shoppers and keep businesses in the city.

Bourton Mill Health and Leisure opened the city centre fitness club in 2004.

The company was founded in 1990 at a converted mill near Buckingham. It also has a club in Milton Keynes.

A planning application has now been submitted to Oxford City Council to change the property from a gym to retail space.