An overhaul of the tired 1960s building formed part of the contract bid by GLL when it took over management of the centre back in 2016 on behalf of Bath & North East Somerset Council. Ian Cotgrave, Managing Director of leisure design and build company Createability, explains: “Additions had been made to the facilities over the years, but it was no longer fit for purpose and the needs of today’s modern families. The old centre consisted of underused squash courts, a sports hall, a fitness suite and two swimming pools, but it was a very basic offering. GLL wanted to extend the lifespan of the centre and offer better facilities, in line with their ‘Better’ branding.”
Createability was brought in under the company’s framework agreement with GLL to carry out the redevelopment with the remit of keeping facilities open as much as possible to reduce disruption for centre users.
Cotgrave says: “Our expertise lies in working with live sites, organising works to ensure the facilities stay open as long as possible, keeping revenue loss to a minimum and customers happy. Maintaining continuity of service does throw up challenges as we cannot just turn off the boiler and install another one, for instance. Everything has to be built alongside the original, so we can switch over services when the centre is closed at night.”
In line with this, the 24-month redevelopment was carried out in three phases. The first, which started in the summer of 2016, saw Createability produce massive pile foundations in the underground car park to hold up the floor of the eight-court sports hall, before building a floor-to-ceiling wall halfway across the main sports hall. Createability was then able to hand back the new four-court sports hall to the centre whilst work began on the other side to create a mezzanine floor, with a brand-new 573m2 fitness suite, kitted out by Technogym, two purpose-built fitness studios and a dedicated 124m² martial arts studio.
The previous dry-side changing rooms, which consisted of just two showers and a toilet in each facility to cater for more than 3000 members, were replaced with light, modern, fit-for-purpose changing rooms in what was the old gym.
In January 2017, once the fitness studio moved into its new space, phase two began to develop an eight-lane, tenpin bowling alley with a cafe and two-storey kids play structure with three party rooms on the ground floor. At the same time, work started to convert the underused squash courts into a dedicated 914m² trampoline park complete with battle beam, dodgeball, basketball and wipe-out attractions.
Phase three, at the pool end of the building, included an overhaul of the sports centre’s entrance area, so the main reception was temporarily moved into the bowling alley, which boasts its own access to all the new facilities, to ensure the centre was kept open at all times.
The centre’s main reception was remodelled with a new front of house area, a new staircase, lift and motorised doors, and the entire frontage was rebranded with GLL’s Better brand.
Meanwhile, a new teaching pool was built to accommodate swimming lessons, and the pool hall was refurbished, along with the first-floor viewing gallery that overlooks both the main and teaching pools. The ventilation system was replaced, the entire area was retiled and the lighting upgraded to LED throughout. The old-style male and female wet-side changing facilities were replaced with a light, bright, modern changing village, in line with Sport England’s changing room guidelines. The modernisation has seen pool usage increase by 56% since the works completed.
“A large part of our projects are never seen by the public,” continues Cotgrave. “Whilst all the work was going on to the facilities that the customers see and use day in, day out, in the main plant room we carried out a further £1m refurbishment, replacing all the M&E for the entire facility, including the pool plant.”