Â£5m Lancaster leisure centre revamp well under way
With the Olympics just around the corner thoughts are turning to Team GB and home sporting success.
Meanwhile a radical transformation is under way which may help uncover the next great British Olympian in our neck of the woods.
Salt Ayre Sports Centre is being upgraded to the tune of £5m with the idea of getting more local people involved in sport and leisure.
The work is well under way and the aim is to transform the struggling facility into something not only our district, but the North West can be proud of.
The plans were controversial. Some felt that spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on the Lancaster City Council-owned leisure centre was a luxury in times of austerity.
But after input from Somerset-based leisure specialists Alliance, the blueprint for Salt Ayre’s future does look exciting.
The centre will remain open throughout, although there is a new temporary main entrance while work takes place to revamp the reception and sports hall.
New features will include a new automated revolving door, a bigger reception area and an extended cafe bar.
The existing sports hall has been divided in half by a permanent wall for one side to be converted into a soft adventure play area with a ‘clip and climb’ wall for children.
This should be open by the end of October. Opening hours will be 4pm to 9pm.
The new smaller sports hall reopened from Monday, August 1 and is again taking bookings for activities including five a side, badminton, exercise classes and bowling.
A new extension will be built at Salt Ayre for a luxurious spa. This should open by summer 2017.
And a major overhaul of the gym is planned by January 2017. The fitness centre will triple in size, going from 30 stations to around 100, and include state of the art equipment such as a ‘virtual reality’ exercise bike where cyclists can follow their ‘route’ on screens.
Salt Ayre’s impressive public swimming pool, home to the Carnforth Otters and Lancaster City Swimming and Water Polo Club, will remain unchanged.
Meanwhile a new high ropes thrill tower, complete with 12m bungee jump and zip wire, will open on the underused outdoor football pitch.
This will be the only one of its kind in Europe run by a local authority.
The centre will also change its name from Salt Ayre Sports Centre to Salt Ayre ‘Leisure’ Centre to take into account some of the new, non-sports facilities.
Management aims to increase membership from 1100 to 2500 and says prices will be “very affordable”. They will also be looking to recruit around 15 new staff.
Stuart Glover, sports development and facilities manager, said: “Salt Ayre will be a facility of regional significance for lots of reasons.
“We will be getting more involved with local athletics and cycling clubs, working together, gaining more members and increasing participation levels.”
While they have tried to keep disruption to a minimum during the work, some regular actvities and classes have had to move out. But Mr Glover said this is just temporary.
“We’ve had some difficult conversations with some of our customers but mainly it’s been OK,” he said.