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As part of the plans, outdated facilities in Seaham, Chester-le-Street and Bishop Auckland are proposed to be replaced by new, vibrant multi-facility provisions, with modernisation proposals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“.
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.”
Following approval by South Somerset District Council in September, works are finally underway on the regeneration of Chard, Somerset.Demolition of existing buildings on the industrial site at Boden Mill in the town centre began this month in preparation for the construction of a modern leisure centre housing a gym, a 25 metre swimming pool, exercise studios, adventure play facility and a café.
Alliance Leisure has been appointed to manage the project under the UK Leisure Framework, and will work alongside building contractor Speller Metcalfe, plus architecture and building consultancy practice AHR.
Julia Goddard, Senior Business Development Manager at Alliance Leisure, says: “The construction of a leisure centre is the direct result of a number of public consultations. It is fantastic to finally see the bulldozers on site, marking the beginning of a project that will reinvigorate this under-utilised part of the town and encourage a more active, healthy and happy community.”
In addition to the leisure centre, approval has also been granted for the conversion and extension of an existing building to create a new library and community hub. Future phases of the development include proposals for housing, commercial units and public realm improvements.
Speaking about the development, Alex Parmley, Chief Executive and Sponsor of the Chard Regeneration Scheme, says: “The Boden Mill site has been derelict for many years and bringing it back in to use is an essential part of moving the town forward. With the regeneration of the site taking place over the coming years, this scheme will help to bring more footfall to the town centre, increase the vitality and help to boost businesses locally.”
Demolition works are expected to complete by Spring 2020. Phase 1 works to construct the new leisure centre will then get underway and are expected to complete by summer 2021.
More people in Hertsmere are experiencing the benefits of health and fitness facilities thanks to the £4.5 million refurbishment of Bushey Grove and Furzefield Leisure Centres delivered by Alliance Leisure.
Working in partnership with charitable Trust, InspireAll (formerly Hertsmere Leisure), who manage the sites on behalf of Hertsmere Borough Council, Alliance kept the doors of both centres open, ensuring business as usual throughout the nine-month project. Alliance engaged with Createability to deliver the build works as part of the package.
“Our brief was to design and carry out works that would improve the sustainability of the centres through the provision of services and facilities which match the evolving needs of the whole community and the creation of new revenue generating opportunities,” explains Tom Fairey, Senior Business Development Manager at Alliance Leisure. “I am pleased to say that the finished works tick both boxes at both sites.”
At Bushey Grove Leisure Centre, a mezzanine floor above the reception has added an impressive 7,800 sq ft to the gym and enabled the incorporation of a large, functional training space. A dedicated group cycle studio, hosting the latest Stages Flight cycles and a giant virtual experience screen, has also been added to enable the facility to offer round-the-clock classes.
Bushey Grove’s tired health suite has been remodeled to create a day-spa with its own reception and four treatment rooms. Visitors can enjoy an ice fountain, heated benches and bucket showers or can simply chill out in the new relaxation area, herbal sauna or aroma steam rooms. Changing areas have been renovated to ensure a luxury experience from start to finish.
Elsewhere, dry side changing rooms and the old creche have been converted into a cafe, new bathrooms, a staff room and a new creche. The old staff room is now a large party room with a folding acoustic wall that can open up to provide further cafe seating when necessary.
To complete the works, Bushey Grove’s swimming pool changing village has been lightly refurbished and features InspireAll’s branding and colours in keeping with the rest of the upgraded centre.
Furzefield Leisure Centre has also undergone major refurbishment. The centre’s tiny 6,900 sq ft soft play area has been transformed into party rooms and two of the existing sevencourt sports hall have been converted into a massive Soft Play and ‘XHeight’ Adventure Climbing facility suitable for all ages, with dedicated lobby, cafe and toilets.
As with Bushey Grove, the existing spa area has been remodeled to create a day spa with its own reception and four treatment rooms, reconfigured from a current studio. The spa includes: a relaxation area, salt inhalation room, ice fountain, feature shower, herbal sauna and aroma steam, as well as a bespoke, dedicated spa-specific changing area.
Like sister site Bushy Grove, Furzefield’s gym now offers a fully equipped functional training area as well as new equipment, including the Technogym SKILL range, including SKILLROW™, the SKILLMILL™ and the new SKILLRUN™ plus the latest connected equipment from Matrix. New vibrant wall graphics have also been added to help motivate customers to achieve new goals.
It also features an impressive immersive cycle studio hosting a full complement of Stages Flight cycles and a giant virtual experience screen.
The reception, back office and sales department have all received a cosmetic upgrade to ensure all areas reflect the InspireAll brand, along with new Paddy & Scott’s branded café’s.
Fairey adds: “Furzefield is a busy site but it had grown tired and was struggling to cater keep up with the leisure needs of the community. The recent works will help to retain existing users and also attract new segments of the market, creating a destination for all the family to enjoy some leisure time.”
Speaking about the developments, David Brame, Chief Executive of InspireAll, says: “This was a challenging project with significant crossover with the public, which was handled well. The finished facilities have been well received by our customers and will certainly help to strengthen user experience.
“Both leisure centres are an essential part of the community, already more individuals and groups are enjoying the quality of service and leisure experience these two centres now have to offer.”
Following a £1.4 million investment in a new visitor centre, function room and café, Carmarthenshire County Council is celebrating a bumper summer at Pembrey Country Park.
“Pembrey Country Park has always been one of Wales’ top visitor attractions but this summer has been extraordinary in terms of the number of visitors and income generated,” explains Neil Thomas Senior Outdoor Recreation Manager. “Over the summer holidays we have experienced a 10 per cent increase in footfall and a 15 per cent uplift in revenue on last year. There is little doubt that our success is due to the improvements we have made to our facilities.
“The natural beauty of the park, with its 500 acres of woodland and eight miles of golden sands has always attracted visitors but we felt we were not supporting the natural beauty with fit for purpose amenities. For example, we offered limited on site catering provision, in particular for the large numbers of guests staying on our caravan site. We were missing a trick from a customer experience and revenue generation point of venue.”
In 2017, Carmarthenshire County Council tasked Alliance Leisure, via the UK Leisure Framework, to design and build a 400 square foot visitor centre, function room and café. Works got underway in February and were completed in 21 weeks, ready for the summer season.
Neil Thomas, adds: “We took the decision to manage the café in house rather than rent the space to a third party. This has been a great decision. During July and August we served more than 50,000 customers.
“The function room has also been popular. So far, we have hosted children’s parties, corporate events and even have our first wedding booked for 2020. The space occupies 60 square feet and is extremely versatile, offering direct access to outside, the café and the restrooms.
Gillian Dunster, Business Development Manager at Alliance Leisure, says: “Our brief was to design and build facilities which would enhance the member experience and provide opportunities to generate new incomes, creating a sustainable future for the Park.
“The first two months of operation suggest that working in close partnership with the council, we have delivered on both counts. Pembrey County Park is an area of natural beauty and now provides visitors with the infra structure they need to fully enjoy all the activities on offer from dry slope skiing and crazy golf to adventure play, horse riding, camping and nature trails.”
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