Following the opening of Chadderton’s new £6.5m wellbeing centre and the £1.5m refurbishment of Saddleworth Pool back in 2008, there was a £1m redevelopment, funded by the council and Oldham Community Leisure, of Failsworth Sports Centre, including an exclusive teen gym.
Now the council has ploughed a further £23m into two shiny new facilities in Oldham and neighbouring Royton, to deliver a modernised health and leisure experience for local residents, as well as creating 23 jobs – 14 of them local people – and 25 apprenticeships.
So it’s been a busy time for Oldham Community Leisure (OCL), which manages all the borough’s leisure facilities on behalf of Oldham Council. Royton’s £8m leisure centre opened to the public at the end of September, with its sister site, the £15m Oldham Leisure Centre opening just over a month later at the beginning of November.
At Royton the entire centre took 100,000 man hours to complete and 240 tonnes of steel, 55,000 bricks and 15,000 blocks to erect, as well as 730m³ of concrete in the foundations and floor slabs.
Members and casual users benefit from a six-lane, 25-metre swimming pool with spectator seating. As part of the Olympic Facilities Legacy Fund, Royton Leisure Centre was awarded a grant of £134,000 from Sport England to support the pool’s installation and ensure the legacy of London 2012 lives on. The new pool, the country’s first full legacy swimming pool installation since the London 2012 Olympics, is the same design as one of the Olympic training pools.
Charles Johnston, Property Director at Sport England, said: “The pool at Royton Leisure Centre will ensure that the legacy of London 2012 continues to thrive in Oldham. Legacy pools have the potential to benefit thousands of people and I am really pleased that the local community in Royton and surrounding areas will be able to benefit from this innovative scheme.”
To monitor usage of the pool and maximise uptake, Gladstone Health and Leisure has supplied a range of software solutions including a specially developed access control system, which allows specific facility usage to be collected. OCL is using the system to capture swimming usage at reception touchscreen turnstiles. All-inclusive members simply answer the question “Are you going to swim today” with a Yes/No answer, which is in turn stored in the database for inclusion within the system reports.
Royton Leisure Centre also boasts a separate learner pool and, between them, the two pools hold 580,000 litres of water. As well as exercise/dance studios, there is an 80-station fitness gym fitted with Technogym’s OMNIA 3 functional training equipment, Element strength stations, Excite cardio range, Group Cycle bikes and a range of free weights.
Meanwhile, Oldham Leisure Centre’s enhanced facilities will enable OCL to hold regional and televised competitions; on offer is a 25-metre, eight-lane swimming pool, an eight-court sports hall with seating for over 500 spectators, an indoor bowls arena, cafe and ample free car parking.
“It’s been a rollercoaster of a year building up to the opening of these two new leisure centres within a few weeks of each other,” said Stuart Lockwood, CEO of OCL. “But the council’s investment has provided superior leisure activities for the area – helping to put the borough on the national sporting map and to ensure that an Olympic legacy lives on.”
Both new centres are going through Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) accreditation – which means they can cater for the needs of disabled and non-disabled people, and feedback from the local community has been positive. Bernadette Fox, 61, previously travelled all the way to Rochdale to find a centre suitable for her disabled son’s needs. After visiting the new Oldham Leisure Centre she said: “It’s great. My son goes to the swimming baths in Todmorden with his carer. They’ve enjoyed it but when the winter is bad they can’t go. They’ve shown me around the disabled changing room near the pool – that was good. Now I will be bringing him here.”
The old Royton and Oldham centres have closed for the final time, with the sites included in plans for further town centre regeneration. Demolition of the old Royton centre is already underway and will make way for the new centre’s 60-space car park, which is due to complete in March 2016.
Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader, said: “After years of planning and hard work the opening of the borough’s new Olympic legacy centres is here. Both developments have been very much a local and joint-working effort with several Oldham businesses and organisations grafting hard to get the job done on time in a professional manner.
Improved health and wellbeing
“We’re on an incredible journey for the borough, with several regeneration projects well underway and nearing completion. These are two of the many projects I hope residents will be proud of and embrace.”
Councillor Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Deputy Leader said: “This is a fantastic moment for Oldham as this amazing facility is a key element in the town’s transformation. Oldham Leisure Centre will not only serve as a first-class facility for residents and visitors but it will be an important community and social venue – and one that will have the correct specifications to attract major regional and national competitions in some sports.
“We made a commitment following the London Olympics that we would provide facilities that would improve the health and wellbeing of our residents. We also pledged that the new facilities would create local jobs and a large number of residents and local firms have been involved in their construction too.”
Anthony Dillon, Willmott Dixon’s Northern Managing Director, said: “I am delighted to see the opening of these two leisure centres with Oldham Council. Oldham Leisure Centre in particular was a challenging construction project and credit must go the council and the whole project team for delivering such a first class community facility using so much local labour.”