Woodhouse Close Leisure Complex, Bishop Auckland

The landscape of leisure in Durham is set to change, following the approval by Durham County Council, of a significant £62.8 million investment programme to transform services across the County.

Working in close consultation with leisure development specialist, Alliance Leisure through the UK Leisure Framework, proposals were submitted and approved by Cabinet last month (January), paving the way for an ambitious transformation programme to bring provision in line with the needs of a modern day community.

As part of the plans, outdated facilities in Seaham, Chester-le-Street and Bishop Auckland are proposed to be replaced by new, vibrant multi-facility provisions, with modernisation proposals also approved at several other leisure facilities across the County. In addition, facility provision and programming across Durham will undergo a full review with a host of exciting innovations tipped for inclusion.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, says: “We have already been very successful in introducing pioneering new ways to get active at our leisure centres. It’s important that we build on this by continuing to follow changing tastes and trends in the leisure industry if we are to increase participation in physical activity in the county and provide people with the type of services they want.”

James Foley, Commercial Director at Alliance Leisure says: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Council. This investment approval follows extensive consultation and evaluation between us, the Council and stakeholders.”

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul leisure provision across an entire county and to get it right. Using our experience of developing innovative leisure facilities in tandem with sound business planning, we will assist the Council to deliver exciting and sustainable facilities and services that meet the needs of the people in County Durham“.

Chester-Le-Street Leisure Centre

Nigel Dodds, Strategic Manager for Leisure at the Council, says: “An active community is a healthy community. We want to make sure we create inspiring, active environments that provide facilities and programmes offering something for everyone.”

Before finalising any plans for its leisure centres, the council will work with residents and centre users to decide how services should look.

In response to the news, Charles Johnson, Property Director for Sport England notes: “It is good to see that Durham recognises the worth of investing in their infrastructure as a way to get people to become more physically active, recognising the positive impact the right facilities in the right place have on people’s lives. We look forward to engaging with Alliance and Durham County Council in developing the detail behind these proposals.”